Asks Union Health Minister to send a strong message to exploiters of India’s poor

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat has demanded action against those involved in the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine trials.

In a letter to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ms. Karat said he must act without any delay so as to send a strong message to other potential exploiters of India’s poor through such irregular clinical trials.

“Indeed, it is deeply regrettable that, in spite of the assurances you made on the floor of the House, when these issues, now validated by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, were raised by me through a Calling Attention motion, you have not taken any action against those responsible. I have written to you on several occasions urging you to act, but you have refused to do so. In the light of the report of the Standing Committee, it would be legitimate to ask: is it because the health interests of poor Adivasi and Dalit children have little value for you that you did not act?” Ms. Karat wrote.

Ms. Karat had been instrumental in highlighting violations during the trials in Khammam and Vadodara districts in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat respectively in 2010. The trials were performed on young girls living in tribal hostels and the consent forms were signed by their wardens and parents, in some cases, in violation of ethics.

She alleged that individuals in the Drug Controller General of India, Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Rural Health Mission working under his Ministry had manipulated, violated rules and regulations and acted to facilitate the interests of the two foreign pharma companies.

Seeking immediate compensation of Rs. 10 lakh to each of those who were made subjects in these irregular trials in gross violation of their rights, Ms. Karat said the fine should be levied by the government on PATH, the two companies and the promoter, and the Gates Foundation.