Congress demands probe into deaths of 49 babies in AIIMS

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New Delhi, Aug 18 (UNI) Anguished at the report that 49 babies have died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) during the course of clinical trials for testing new drugs and therapies, the Congress today demanded an investigation by an independent team of experts into each and every case and suspend all clinical trials on human beings pending the investigation.

"People of India can no longer be treated as guinea pigs," AICC spokesman Manish Tewari told mediapersons, while urging the government to order proper investigation.

Regretting that India had become the largest centre for outsourcing of clinical trials, he said the number of clinical trials on human being in India was almost thrice that taking place in China.

"The reason is obvious. India is a much cheaper destination to subject people to trials or new drugs, therapies, procedures and treatment pattern than almost anywhere in the world," Mr Tewari said.

He alleged that prima facie ethical guidelines for biomedical research had been grossly violated in the clinical trials on babies in AIIMS.

In this context, he said the guidelines clearly stated that children, under no circumstances, be put to clinical trials. In their place, trials should be conducted on adults. However, by subjecting babies to trials, AIIMS seemed to have violated the guidelines, he alleged.

Likewise, the guidelines were categorical that trials should not be conducted on children from socially and economically disadvantaged sections. There seemed to be a violation of this guideline too in the case of what had happened in AIIMS.

There were reports that 49 babies, many of whom were below the age of one-year, were died at AIIMS in the past two-and-a-half years.

Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) query by an NGO on clinical trials on babies, the AIIMS administration admitted that of the 4,142 babies who were enrolled for clinical trials by the Institute's department of paediatrics, 49 had died since January 1, 2006. The department had conducted 42 sets of trials on babies during this period.

UNI SH GT HS1907

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