14 May, 2021

Patients As Guinea Pigs

Allegations of unethical clinical "experiments" on cancer patients in Kerala is raising a storm

Patients As Guinea Pigs
While India has emerged as a preferred destination for multinational drug companies and foreign academic institutions for clinical trials of newly-developed drugs, uncomfortable questions are being raised about their compliance with guidelines governing good clinical practices.

Now, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, is making news in Kerala for all the wrong reasons. Its tie-up with the Thiruvananthapuram-based Regional Cancer Centre (rcc), a teaching hospital where patients from across the state and outside converge, has attracted government and media attention over allegations of unethical clinical practices and testing of a cancer drug banned in the US by the Food and Drug Agency (fda).

rcc researchers had been running clinical tests on a drug developed by the American university called M4N, the tetramethyl form of Nor Dihydro Gualaretic Acid (ndga), the active ingredient contained in an American desert shrub called chaparral. Native American Indians, as well as pharmacologists, believed the plant had anti-cancer properties. Early studies indicated that ndga,...

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