Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Babies or guinea pigs?

Last week, newspapers reported that 49 babies below the age of 12 months have died at India’s best known medical institute, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences , better known by its acronym AIIMS. The babies have died since January 2006, following the administration of new drugs and therapies.

On Tuesday, August 26, AIIMS said that the drugs used for clinical trials were ’safe’. The institute also strongly refuted allegations that the children chosen for the drug trials were from a poor socio-economic background. Read the PTI report [via The Hindu] here.

News of the infants’ deaths was obtained under the Right to Information Act when Rahul Verma [pl read his comment to AW in the comments section] who is associated with a non-government organisation called the Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups applied for information on ongoing clinical trials at AIIMS.

What he found out: 4142 babies were registered by AIIMS for clinical trials; of these, 2728 were less than 12 months old. And 49 (or under 2 per cent) had died in the past 30 months. For the same period AIIMS conducted 42 trials in its paediatric department.

As with most things Indian, health minister Anbumani Ramadoss has called for an inquiry to be conducted by the AIIMS director. The findings are expected to be submitted within a week.

AIIMS doctors have been maintaining that the children who died were ’seriously ill’ and were not a part of the intervention programme.

Nevertheless, the deaths seem to have focussed attention on India’s booming outsourced clinical trial business. According to Rahul Verma there is urgent need to regulate India’s booming outsourced clinical trial business, which he pegs at $120 million for the last year and which he estimates is growing at a whopping 25 per cent annually.

“When you are not able to afford a particular treatment in a private health care centre you look forward to getting free medication in something like this,” Verma recently told AFP.

“We wanted to know what are the socioeconomic condition of these people? Are they given consent forms and counselling?”

Good questions. Some years ago, I was in Chennai visiting the facilities of an NGO that provided medical treatment — much of it free — to poor HIV positive patients. The NGO’s director freely admitted that many new drug trials were being conducted at her institute. All the patients, she pointed out, were given counselling and trails were conducted only after their consent had been obtained.

But to a poor man or woman who had been served a death warrant, the promise of a breakthrough by a new drug is too powerful to resist. Especially, when he or she cannot afford expensive anti-retroviral drugs required for the treament of HIV/AIDS

Verma said the hospital did not provide information on the incomes of the families in the infant trials.

Incidentally, a clinical trial conducted in India costs 40 to 60 per cent less than what it would in a developed country. According to consulting firm, Ernst & Young the outsourced clinical research market in India could grow to two billion dollars by 2010.

Ramadoss has promised legislation and regulation of these trials. But given India’s desperately poor population and the numbers that simply cannot afford treatment and medication, there are serious concerns and questions about the practice and ethics of clinical trials in this country.

What do you think?

India Under Siege .. And The Traitors Within

Arundhati Roy joins the rally held by terrorists and Paksitani supporters and calls for India to give “azaadi” to Kashmir. Of course Kashmir’s separation will lead to the balkanization of India and that’s what this maoist activist eventually wants.

Here’s an article by Dr. Gautam Sen about the Islamic and Maoist Seige of India:

India is undergoing outright warfare, with its cities bombed at will and massive infiltration across its borders. The Pakistani rationale for cutting India down to size has rarely faltered since 1947 and echoes a much older Islamic tradition. It stretches back a millennium and reasserted itself the moment British usurpers of Islamic rule were expelled by Hindus. Of course the Anglo-American imperialists and cold warriors actively incited this diabolical outcome because they assumed Islam would be an ally against Soviet communism and Nehru’s India would not. The Arabs in general and the Saudis in particular eventually become co-conspirators in the project to restore Islamic primacy in the Indian subcontinent even if Hindus were to continue ruling it nominally as vassals. They correctly perceive that the ability to control and deploy India’s economic and demographic assets will allow them to challenge the Christian West. The Saudis are the main source of the catalytic funding for the jihad that is threatening to break India’s political will and evidently succeeding. The Chinese also became active after the mid-1950s in arming Pakistan and, more recently, encouraging its bombing campaign of Indian cities to curb the economic advance of India, which it regards as an irritating, lowly rival.

Within India, some mosques and madrasas are the fifth column that provides critical support for the aggression that it is encountering. Their role is to cultivate passive and active support for the Islamic onslaught. It entails ensuring that most Muslims refuse to co-operate in efforts to interdict Islamic terrorists by remaining silent spectators while the murderous bombings continue, provide safe havens in impenetrable Muslim areas for terrorists and a vital element of local manpower to the Pakistani and Saudi agencies engaged in terrorist activities. The deployment of Muslim votes strategically is also an important aspect of their overall goals in order to make it impossible for important Hindu families (rather than the nominal political organisations that they preside over) to survive politically without their consent. The economic sabotage of counterfeit currency produced by Pakistani government agencies is another aspect of the Islamic onslaught that has the virtue of making Indians themselves defray the cost of jihad.
Indian themselves are profoundly complicit in the project that seems destined to destroy their country and their civilisation. Two underlying factors that have facilitated the rapid expansion of the Islamic onslaught against India are its political culture and constitutional arrangements. The first is the product of the bumbling imbecility of the Gandhian project that de-legitimised the whole notion of self-defence, on which all societies are founded and to which the most important Hindu text is almost exclusively addressed. And it was Pandit Nehru whose arrogance and intellectual mediocrity accentuated and institutionalised this Gandhian self-destructiveness in India’s constitutional arrangements, again the product of the wilful ignorance of its leaders, created a parliamentary democracy after independence that guaranteed to highlight and deepen every division among its citizens. In a presidential system, by contrast, Indians would have been compelled to begin overcoming their multiple identities and the potential divisions they incubated because the constituency for president would have been a national one.

India now exhibits all the political and psychological symptoms of a defeated society. The unprecedented protests in Jammu have been greeted with surprise across the board precisely because they are exceptional. But the overall situation in India is dismaying, with virtually its entire political class overawed by the intimidatory truculence of Islam, anxious not to provoke even if it entails conceding the most fundamental norms of Indian society. The ascendant media, harbouring crude Western aspirations and their concomitant political interests, and elite higher education institutions dominated by Christians are gleefully nurturing a deracinated Indian establishment. Their purpose is to exercise influence over India by completely dominating its intellectual life and of course continue saving souls in the way it has done successfully by Christianising South Korea. The Islamic onslaught against India provides them with a window of opportunity, by keeping India off balance and preventing the emergence of a self-confident indigenous elite that might resist its imperialist designs. This is why Islam and Christianity co-operate cynically over what is becoming the spoils of a broken-backed India, postponing their own competition with each other until they have destroyed all traces of the civilisation of the Hindus first.

The economic success of India in recent years and the resulting additional resources at the disposal of the Indian State are not relevant to the grievous outcome threatening it. These huge resources are actually being used for electoral bribery or stolen and to purchase arms that have little relevance for the prosecution of the deadly internal war against Islamic and other forms of terror. Some of the terrorists have clearly formed a seamless political alliance among themselves, with the Naxalites publicly declaring support for Pakistani terrorists and no doubt benefiting from Pakistani largesse. It may also be hazarded that many individuals, media outlets and alleged human rights organisations are mere fronts for terrorists and the evidence is in the public realm in some important instances. The armaments being purchased with uncharacteristic purposiveness by the entire political class has some bearing on potential external threats to Indian security, but one suspects that the alacrity with which they are undertaken has much to do with spin-offs that result from bribes. But most relevant of all is the failure of India’s politicians to engage with conviction against internal terror by deploying appropriate resources and motivating trained personnel instead of hobbling them in the performance of their duties because of apprehensions about losing Muslim votes.

The end is not necessarily going to take the shape of an invasion by the rapist Pakistan army across the Punjab towards Delhi. In fact, India’s demise and the retreat of Hindus will express itself as an accentuation of trends and processes already underway, with occasional dramatic departures that underline the calamity unfolding. The expulsion of the Pandits, which failed to truly exercise even India’s official nationalists, is a harbinger of the shape of things to come. Hindus are likely to face expulsion from areas dominated by Islam though some of it will occur and is occurring in a huge swathe of eastern India because Hindus are voluntarily abandoning Muslim areas for fear of consequences if riots occur. These areas then come under implicit Pakistani rule under the guise of the autonomy of Sharia practices and constitute bases for militant activity against adjacent areas outside the immediate control of Islam. As the political balance changes in favour of Islam, the Indian political class will behave even more supinely, in a pattern that has already become well established, further sealing the fate of India. And with each success Islam will demand more, as it has increasingly begun to do dramatically in less than four years.

The first major Indian city likely to come under the total sway of Islam is Kolkata since its demographics are changing rapidly, with whole areas being abandoned by Hindus and becoming