The criticisms were made by Dr Amar Jesani in a short-film produced by Dutch non-governmental organisation Wemos. Jesani is a founding member of journals and research centres focused on medical ethics in India and has contributed in government committees on health.
India’s clinical trials came under increasing pressure last year following reports of infant deaths and Jesani’s comments show that some are still deeply uneasy about the current system.
The view held by Jesani, which echoes many who spoke out last year about the infant deaths, is that some drug companies are “compromising science and ethics in the pursuit of profit” and that flaws in the Indian system allow this.
Jesani said: “Unfortunately in my country there are laws but they are not very well implemented so the regulation over the trials, the oversight mechanism, the functioning of the ethics committee and the Drug Controller General of India all of them are so lax that it makes India a big destination for clinical trials.
“They don’t have good scientists; they don’t have enough inspectors to go all over the county. The worst thing in every developing country is corruption. There is too much corruption.”
One consequence of this is that clinical trials use the “desperate” and “most vulnerable” members if Indian society, according to Jesani. This alleged exploitation of India’s poor is what Jesani cites as bothering him most about the current system.
Jesani is a founder member of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME), the Centre for Studies in Ethics and Rights (CSER) and the Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT).
The short-film can be viewed here.