10 May 2012

Indian MPs find regulator and drugs makers colluded over tests

A major investigation into the sale of medical drugs in India has unearthed collusion between the country's regulator and global pharmaceutical companies, according to a parliamentary committee.

India: patients used as guinea pigs?

The Financial Times reports on the results of an enquiry by MPs on the parliamentary health committee, which alleges that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation – the body overseeing clinical trials, licensing and marketing in India – ‘committed serious regulatory violations that could jeopardise the lives of millions of people’.

Guinea pigs

The newspaper goes on to reflect views in the country that global drugs manufacturers have used India as a guinea pig testing ground for experimental trials that arguably wouldn’t be allowed in more developed jurisdictions.
According to the FT, the parliamentary report found that the regulatory body colluded with global manufacturers such as GlaxoSmithKine and Pfizer over the testing process. It quotes the report as saying: ‘There is sufficient evidence on record to conclude there is [a] nexus between drug manufacturers, some functionaries of CDSCO and some medical experts.’
But the manufacturers have challenged the findings. Pfizer issued a statement saying: ‘We abide by stringent ethical, scientific and medical standards in addition to local laws and regulations of the country when we launch our products.’

Tax plea

Elsewhere in India, the Financial Times also reports on a last-ditch bid by Vodafone to convince ministers to row back on plans to amend the country’s laws to recover some $2.6 billion in tax.
Vittorio Colao, the UK telecommunication company’s Italian chief executive, is reported to have travelled to New Delhi to make a personal appeal to India’s finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee. According to the report, Mr Colao’s pleas were rejected.

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