RTI exposes meager compensation for clinical trial deaths
Information provided by the government to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that drug companies are paying as little as Rs. 50,000/- as compensation to families of volunteers for clinical trials who die during the trials. The data brings to light the fact that German company Fresenius Kabi paid Rs. 50,000/- each to the families of patients who died during its cancer drug paclitaxel’s trial. The Ahmedabad-based Veeda paid Rs. 50,000/- to the next of kin of those who died during the trial of its drug with code name MT 102.
It has been informed that out of 483 people who died during drug trials in 2011, families of only 16 families got the compensation. The families of other patients who expired during the trials were not compensated as they were found to be caused by pre-existing illness. Pfizer paid Rs. 5 lakhs to the family of the patient who lost his life while participating in the study of tascotinib, an arheumatoid arthritis drug. It has been informed that the ethics committee consisting of external scientific experts, independent doctors and representatives of civil society decides the amount of compensation as per the Indian rules.
This RTI disclosure points to the need for setting norms for calculating compensation figures for patients participating in such clinical or drug trials. Drug trials among the volunteers are inevitable for finding new cures and also for checking the safety and efficacy of new medicines, but the guidelines for conducting them need to be evolved.