When 38-year-old Boga Suresh fainted on Saturday after vomiting blood, his family was obviously concerned. As he was rushed to the hospital, with the help of a local social activist Shaik Shabir Ali, the family was in for a huge shock: Suresh confessed that he had been participating in clinical drug trials for the last six to seven years.
"According to him, he had participated in 10 to 20 clinical trials, in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Tamil Nadu. The last time he had checked out from a trial, was in Hyderabad two weeks ago. He was promised Rs 24,000 for participating in the trial," Shabir Ali told TNM.
According to Shabir, Suresh's health condition had deteriorated since then, as he began to experience a breathing problem, and his hands started shaking.
After he vomited blood on Saturday, he was shifted to a local hospital in Jammikunta town, following which he was shifted to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Hospital in Warangal.
"He is presently undergoing treatment. We demand that an investigation is conducted by the government, as the companies are not following rules laid down by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). They are also exploiting the economic backwardness of many unemployed youth," Shaik said.
Suresh hails from Kothapalli village in Telangana's Karimnagar district. Kothapalli village comes under Jammikunta mandal, and Suresh's case is far from the first case in this mandal.
Just last week, it was reported that Cheliveri Ashok Kumar from the same village had become mentally unsound, after participating in multiple drug trials. He was later shifted to Hyderabad and lodged at the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda.
"The problem was that Ashok apparently participated in more than 20 drug trials within a single month. He was leaving one venue, and entering another, while the gap stipulated by the government is only one drug trial in three months. Since there is a lack of a central software that keeps track of this, many volunteers flout the norms," All India Medical Volunteers Welfare Association president, Swamy Chowdary, told TNM.
Ashok's family also lodged a complaint against a pharma company with the Jammikunta police.
On June 2 this year, 39-year-old Vangara Nagaraju, a resident of Nagampet village in Karimnagar district, had dropped dead with a swollen hand, just after returning home from Bengaluru.
His body was exhumed more than two weeks after his death following a police complaint on June 16, and a post-mortem was conducted.
Nagaraju was part of a clinical trial conducted by Bengaluru's Lotus Labs and his family had no clue about this. They knew about the trials only when they accessed documents from his bag, after his death.
According to them, Nagaraju may have been doing it for several years and they didnâ€™t have a clue.
Clinical trials are conducted in several phases, with each phase having several rounds, and each round lasting 24 to 48 hours. According to reports, Nagaraju had died between two rounds.
Earlier this year, TNM had uncovered how WhatsApp groups were used to recruit several illiterate and poor men from various parts of the country and trap them into drug trials.