Hyderabad: Five women have been hospitalized in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh after they allegedly became guinea pigs for a pharma company trying out a new anti-breast cancer drug.
The five women were rushed to a hospital in Guntur after nausea and severe pain in the legs, after taking part in what they say was a clinical trial. These women alleged that for Rs 10,000, they were lured by a pharma company to volunteer for a breast cancer drug trial.
One of the victims said, "We were asked to come to Hyderabad to give our blood samples, after which a pill was given to each one of us. They said we would be called again for the remaining doses. But we developed severe leg pain and nausea."
GVK Bioscience, the pharma major that allegedly got them to take part in the trial has denied the charges. It said, "We are concerned that our company has been erroneously linked with the issue of volunteers from Piduguralla, Guntur dist. We want to make it clear that GVK BIO has not been involved in any activity with the volunteers. Being one of India's leading contract research organization, with global accreditations, GVK BIO consistently follows the highest safety and quality standards."
The State Health Ministry, meanwhile, has ordered an inquiry. Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Ravindra said, "This is an aberration in the system. The victims are now doing alright. But we are investigating the case and want to assure no one will is spared, even if it is a big company."
This is not the first time that Andhra Pradesh has witnessed an incident of an alleged illegal clinical trial. While sources point at a deep nexus between middlemen and pharma companies in luring volunteers from poor regions of the state, officials admit the crux of the problem is not the lack of laws regarding clinical trials but instead it is their lack of implementation on ground.