Woman loses life to clinical trial drug

The Times of India

January 28, 2012

WARDHANNAPET (WARANGAL): A 55-year-old tribal woman died after taking drugs for a clinical trial at Donga Chintha Thanda in Wardhannapet mandal in Warangal district on Friday. The incident set off alarm bells once again on the dangerous consequences of trials of this nature involving poor and innocent villagers.

Tapawath Chilukamma was bedridden ever since clinical trials related to gynaecology were conducted on her by Axis Clinical Labs. Upon hearing the news of her death, villagers took out a protest rally while youth staged a rasta roko on Wardhannapet-Khammam main road shouting slogans against clinical trials.

Sources said Chilukamma was among 10 others who were taken to Hydarabad for conducting the first phase of trials on June 27, 2010. After keeping them there for 10 days and taking blood samples and testing the medicine, the women were sent back. Three women from the group started vomiting and complaining of severe physical pain soon after. Chilukamma was wracked by severe joint pains, dizziness, nausea and chest pains.

Their condition never got back to normal and a team of Central Pharmacy Board arrived at the village on June 25, 2011, and enquired with Chilukamma as to what line of experiment was done on her by Axis Lab. Two other women, Rangamma and Ratnamma, who also fell ill are still bedridden. Sources said the lab had promised Rs 8,500 each, but the women were yet to be paid the amount. Relatives and family members staged a dharna with the body of Chilukamma and demanded stringent action against the lab. BC welfare minister Baswaraju Saraiah has directed the district collector to conduct an inquiry into the clinical experiments on the innocent tribals. The villagers gheraoed RDO Sangeetha who visited the thanda and demanded action against the pharma lab.

It may be recalled that some 35 women and a few men in Piduguralla in Guntur district were also taken for clinical trials by Axis Lab last year, which earned all-round criticism. In 2009, teenage girls in tribal welfare hostels in Khammam district were given HPV vaccines (to prevent cervical cancer) like Gardasil and Cervarix. It was only after the death of five girls that the clinical trials stopped.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.