The Indian government reports that across the country more than 1,500 people have died in clinical trials since 2008, many participating in studies for Western pharmaceutical companies. Because official documentation of the deaths is frequently incomplete or non-existent, it is unclear how many people died from the same illnesses that initially qualified them for certain drug studies.
Whether the studies are for birth control, diabetes, migraines or high blood pressure, money often draws volunteers into Indian drug trials. Such drug trials raises questions about lax regulatory oversight in these studies, the integrity of some of the companies contracted to run them and the reliability of the data they produce.
The financial incentives can lead to study volunteers enrolling in more than one study at a time. That not only puts their lives in danger, but it also can skew the accuracy of test results that drug companies and regulators rely on to judge a drug’s safety.