We Indian Guinea Pigs say oink, oink.
Have you ever seen an Indian guinea pig? No, it’s not a newly discovered species of guinea pig. You have known it all along – just take a look into the mirror and there it is staring back at you. Yep, you are IT. And before you start getting angry at me for calling you a guinea pig when you think of yourself as a human being- please take a look at this article from the respected medical journal Lancet. As per the article the respected medical journal is immensely worried that a new law which makes compensation compulsory in case of side effects when testing new drugs on humans for the first time- will drive drug companies away from spending their research dollars in India. I mean, if gods forbid the drug company has to test it on Americans or Europeans and something goes wrong with the new drug, what will happen? Won’t they have to pay millions of dollars as compensation? But Indians have a billion plus population and if a few hundreds of the surplus population dies in the noble search for new drugs to cure diseases well it’s all for the good of humanity isn’t it?
Let me re-iterate again in this post- for those reading my blog for the first time that I am one of you- an on-again and off-again scientist myself and am not against research or development or progress in science. But as an Indian/Asian, the Hypocrisy of some of these Western scientists really sickens me. The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) which is being touted as the answer to all of America’s sexually transmitted diseases problems has an ugly history of being tested on illiterate tribal girls (pre-teens with no sexual contact history) who were informed that they were getting Vitamin injections for good health. A Standing Committee of Parliamentarians has severely indicted the western company who sponsored the research and its local Indian counterpart which did the actual research on behalf of the American company – for a few dollars more, a few tainted, dirty dollars more.
And let’s not forget that it’s not only Big Pharma which exploits the illiterates and unfortunates as human guinea pigs- even the American Government is complicit in this exploitation. The National Institutes of Health which are federal institutes funded by American Taxpayers also outsource their clinical trials on patients to third world countries like India. Refer above article where the Lancet quotes the NIH of stopping 40 clinical trials in one month- July – isn’t it a whopping number for just one month? I am sure most American Tax payers are ignorant of where their tax dollars finally end up- in the hands of Biotech companies in Bangalore- for supporting unethical human research among the poor and illiterate. I am not blaming the common people of America, they are as much innocent of any of this as common Indians are- it’s the middlemen who are exploiting this situation of outsourcing clinical trials to third world countries- to make quick profits.
The Indian biotech community has its hands steeped in the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. But that is no surprise to us Indians, is it? I mean, we have a long and fruitful history of foreign collaboration. That is how a few hundred Englishmen of the East India Company were able to rule and loot India for two centuries. And our Clinical trial companies would indeed lament even the smallest degree of governmental oversight as it would cut into their profit dollars and reduce their yearly bonuses, god forbid. Hence they are conducting a massive disinformation campaign against the new law on compensation for Drug Trials.
And the respected medical journal Lancet has now joined the chorus of fear mongers in threatening to move away clinical trials from India into countries with even lesser regulatory oversight- maybe in the Asia Pacific or maybe in Sub-Saharan Africa? Where a tame dictator or two will accept their drug dollars and look the other way? Anyhow, the people of India will not lament that the multinational drug companies are taking their research dollars away. Good riddance is what the average Indian will feel. And if a few Biotech companies in Bangalore have to slash their budgets- well it’s all for the best – let them do in-country research on some disease which will actually be of interest to the people of our country.
And as for all those bleeding hearts who bleat about how this will retard the exploration of new cures for diseases, well let me speak as a common Indian citizen when I say that we Indians are glad to join the global mainstream at least in this- and wait for drugs which have already been tested somewhere and approved for use. Let us not be on the front line, the firing line of new drugs. This is one innovation we will gladly forgo and sit on the sidelines watching and applauding the brave heart pioneers. For when we look in the mirror we see only human beings – the same human beings like in America, in Europe and everywhere else in the world. So why do you see us as pigs?