10 May, 2021

Tried And Tested

India is a favoured destination for human clinical trials. Unfortunately, poor and illiterate people are exploited as norms are flouted with impunity.

Photographs by Tribhuvan Tiwari
Tried And Tested

Around 2005, India turned into a favoured destination for foreign pharma companies to carry out human clinical trials for new medicines, vaccines and other treatments. Two things changed—amendments in the patent law and clinical trial rules. From 2005 onw­ard, clinical trials in India registered an exponential inc­rease—from 180 to 506 in 2010.

The Indian patent law was amended from ‘process patent’ to ‘product patent’ in January 2005 to comply with the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions. Under the process patent, Indian pharma companies had their own ways of manufacturing medicines developed by western pharma companies. Introduction of product patent stopped this manipulation and forced Indian firms to collaborate with western companies.

Western firms also found it profitable to use India as its R&D base as they got volunteers for clinical trials at much cheaper rates due to poor and illiterate citizens as compared to their own...

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