New Delhi, Sept. 30: The Supreme Court today banned for two weeks clinical trials of 162 new drugs so that the government could place on record an expert committee’s guidelines for regulating such experiments using human beings as guinea pigs.
A bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha had initially wanted to pass a written order but granted the government time after additional solicitor-general Siddharth Luthra submitted an undertaking that he would place the guidelines framed by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Until then, the clinical trials would not be conducted, the court told the Centre, to which the counsel agreed.
At the last hearing on January 3, the court had hauled up the Union government for indiscriminate grant of permission to multinational firms and pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials of new drugs by using Indians as guinea pigs, resulting in the death of several patients.
The court had also brushed aside Luthra’s claims that ongoing trials were being scrutinised by various ethical committees, saying such panels don’t inspire confidence as they are mostly set up to divert attention from the real issue.
It regretted that though a parliamentary committee had indicted the government and its authorities in July 2012 for permitting indiscriminate trials, no step had been taken to prevent the “racket involving MNCs and pharma companies” from exploiting Indians.