Indian Council of Medical Research endorsed 'illegal' US vaccine

08/12/2014 21:39

Indian Council of Medical Research endorsed 'illegal' US vaccine


Our country's premier medical research body allegedly played hand in glove with a US NGO to promote commercial interests of two companies manufacturing a controversial cervical cancer vaccine, linked to the deaths of some young Indian girls. 

A parliamentary committee has found that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) helped US NGO, PATH, in facilitating studies related to the cervical cancer vaccine on young girls, endangering their lives. 

A standing committee on health and family welfare was set up to look into the alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using Human papillomavirus vaccine or HPV which claims to prevent some 70 per cent cervical cancer in women. 

The studies related to the vaccine were being carried out in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh and Vadodara, Gujarat. A vaccine called Gardasil, manufactured by US company Merck, was used in Andhra Pradesh and a vaccine called Cervarix by GlaxoSmithkline was used in Gujarat.



However, in March 2010, there were reports of deaths of some girls after administration of the vaccine in Andhra Pradesh. A committee then had pointed out violations of rules in the entire study.

The project dates back to 2006 when the first vaccine - Merck's Gardasil to prevent HPV - was approved in the US. In the same month, PATH embarked on a five-year project in not only India but also Uganda, Peru and Vietnam to generate evidence for introduction of the vaccine in these countries' public-funded immunisation programmes.

The panel found that ICMR lent its platform to PATH in an "improper and unlawful' manner. Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat governments, swayed by the involvement of ICMR, then followed suit. It has questioned how ICMR could commit itself to support the use of the vaccine even before the vaccine was approved for use in the country.

It has also questioned its role in promoting the use of vaccine in national programme when there was no independent study to recommend such a measure.