Wednesday, 9 March 2011

It is better to gun down a person, says widow of drug trial victim; 10 Bhopal gas victims suffer same fate


Bhopal, February 10 (Pervez Bari): "It is better to gun down a person rather than resort to unethical drug trial on him when it is known in advance that it would be fatal".
Such was the emotional outburst of Mrs. Salma Bi, the widow of late of Mr. Nasir Khan a victim of December 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, who died at the young age of 34 years following unethical drug trial on him, while she was responding to newspersons queries about her husband's death.
Late Mr. Nasir was not alone but among the 10 gas victims who had succumbed before him to the drug trials carried on them by the senior consultants of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre, (BMHRC), a hospital dedicated for the survivors of the gas tragedy. The facts came to light after information was sought under RTI Act 2005 by one Mrs. Hazra Bi, a local resident of J. P. Nagar locality. As per the medical records Mr. Nasir, an auto-rickshaw driver by profession, was admitted to BMHRC on July 4, 2010 following complaints of breathlessness. He was diagnosed Cardiomyopathy and administered two main drugs Aspirin and Clopidrogel along with beta blockers, statins and nitrates. He died the same day when he was discharged from the hospital three days later on July 7.
Mrs. Salma, having four kids to feed, told newsmen that her husband was semi-literate and did not know English. The form for drug trial was in English alone and he was made to sign it without being told as to what was being done to him. It must be noted here that the form for drug trials should always be in local vernacular language for the convenience of the patient and their attendant but this was not the case.
It may be pointed out here that the administration of the two main drugs Aspirin and Clopidogrel together, used as a blood-thinner, proves to be fatal. According to the prestigious medical journal “The Lancet”, Volume 364, Issue 9431, Pages 331 - 337, 24 July 2004 issue adding Aspirin to Clopidogrel in high-risk patients with recent ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack is associated with a non-significant difference in reducing major vascular events. However, the risk of life-threatening or major bleeding is increased by the addition of aspirin, the journal says.
Addressing a joint press conference representatives of five NGOs campaigning for justice in the case of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal on Thursday demanded immediate suspension and filing of criminal charges and initiating criminal investigations against the senior consultants of the BMHRC who are guilty of causing deaths of at least 10 gas victims by unethical drug trials.
The five NGOs who made the drug trial allegation on Bhopal gas victims included: Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Children Against Dow Carbide Satinath Sarangi and Rachna Dhingra, of NGO Bhopal Group for Information & Action, said according to the information obtained by them from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, (CDSCO), New Delhi, among the 7 drug trials conducted on gas victims only one trial was monitored by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). As per published information three gas victims have died due to the trial of the drug Televancin on them, five have died due to the drug named Fondaparinux and two due to the drug called Tigecycline.
The documents obtained by these organizations through the Right to Information shows that the consultants of BMHRC made over nearly over one crore from the pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Sanofi whose drugs were tested on the gas victims. The actual total amount received from the drug trials at BMHRC is Rs. 10085100/-, the certificate of which has been issued by Ashok Arora, Assistant Accounts Officer, BMHRC with details of name of the trial, name of sponsor, the department where the trial was done and the amount received. A Dy. Director (Finance) of BMHRC has verified the certificate issued by Mr. Arora.
The five organizations have named Dr. S. K. Trivedi and Dr. H. K. Pande in the Cardiology Department and Dr. Subodh Varshney in the Gastro-Surgery Department as the main culprits for these deaths caused by the drug trials. They said the Institutional Review Board of BMHRC, whose Secretary is Dr. S. K. Trivedi’s wife, has approved these trials.
Meanwhile, the organizations stated that the Madhya Pradesh government initiated an investigation on the unethical trials in BMHRC but the report of this investigation, supposed to be completed by September 2010, remains to be made public. The organizations apprehended that the findings of this investigation would be compromised given that investigator’s mother was given free surgical treatment by Dr. S K Trivedi.
It may be mentioned here that BMHRC was established in 1998 after 40 tonnes of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas spewed from the pesticide plant of the Union Carbide factory in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more that 25,000 over the years. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date. (pervezbari@eth.net)

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