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A poem on “illegal” clinical drug trials in India

The Gods and the Guinea Pigs

Dr Archit Srivastava

He was just a simple man,
Living life like millions do,
He ferried the whole city,
Driving around in his auto,
His life wasn’t perfect,
But he was making most of it,
Until the day the lightning struck,
As he woke up feverish.

His body trembled like a leaf,
His forehead burning like a coal,
Feeling too weak to live his days,
He knocked at the god’s door,
With hope and respect he went,
With care the god took him in,
Leaving himself into his hands,
The poor man counted his sins.

The god and his minions worked,
They gifted him the second wind,
Dragging him back from heaven’s gate,
They put him back on road; driving,
But promise did they take from him,
He visited god on days he marked,
His life was finally back on track,
But little did he see the scars,
The scars god was giving him,
All in the guise of love and care,
Too late did he realize,
That something is wrong, unclear.

No longer could he sleep in peace,
Like fish out of water he fell,
His muscles ached, stomach churned,
And putrid his breath did smell,
His legs were fast betraying him,
The running feet could barely walk,
He ended up at the god’s again,
And as he died he heard them talk.

He breathed his last in agony,
Aware of fact that god betrayed,
He was treated like a guinea pig,
The god he trusted never cared,
He was a subject, not patient,
He learned the truth as he died,
And sadly he was not alone,
The money smiled, Hippocrates cried.


  1. Dr. Archit Srivastava Dr. Archit Srivastava Monday, June 17, 2013

    Reddy sir please wait a bit. I have written over 50 poems on myriad of social issues. You can read my blog. Just search for archwordsmith and you will get it.
    As i was saying, wait a bit. I plan to write against the medias negative attitude against doctors too.
    By the way, i have already written against pvt colleges and corruption during neet pg fiasco. I have even written article on it. You can find it on my blog easily.

  2. P. Narayana Reddy P. Narayana Reddy Monday, June 17, 2013

    Exploitation by politicians and regulatory authorities in the name of rules and regulations are at least hundred times worse than clinical drug trials.To write against their fraud,the available space is not enough. Better write poems against harassment of doctors in the private medical colleges or patients in government medical colleges..

  3. Manoj singh Manoj singh Saturday, June 15, 2013

  4. Anvita Anvita Friday, June 14, 2013

    No court has ever slapped a fine in M.P.

  5. Manoj singh Manoj singh Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Dear Neerja,
    The thing is that not all media is on a witchunt to defame indian doctors. Leave MP, lets talk of other states. Chennai was also in news for such trials recently.
    In MP, court slapped a fine only after serious debate.
    If you have proof about what you say, why did you not go to media and share it with them, why did you not put your points in supreme court?

    I trust courts, media i don’t trust but the links shared by Dr Archit show clearly that it is a pan-world racket. China and india are soft targets due to population. Foreign media doesn’t publish a story just cause it is published by indian media. They do thorough research to maintain their credibility.
    In this debate so far, you have only been spinning words while the young doctor has given proofs.
    I urge you to back your rhetoric with evidence and if true, we will sue media.

  6. Neerja Neerja Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    I have great respect for Juduciary and Media.
    I am aware of lacunae in the regulatory and monitoring framework for drug trials. But I would stop short it calling ‘ a rot’. Things are not as grim.
    I know the shortcomings of CDSCO and DCGI.
    Things are improving.
    However The blame on media in not laughable.
    I can confidently say that media has got it grossly wrong with respect to allegations in Madhyapradesh,
    Because I know the facts myself. It has been as wrong as saying that Neerja is not Neerja and that Neerja has done this and this and this, while I know what I have done.
    I have been regularly been following all media reports mentioned by commentators and many more, including Times of India,MIMS, DNA,Hindu,India Today, Washington Post, independent,Sydney Herald,BBC .
    All of them have merely recycled the falsehood without verifying the facts from the primary sources,that is the principal investigators themselves.
    This whole saga has dented my belief in veracity of media. If they can write so much blatantly wrong about which I know the fact,then it is natural for me to suspect the trustworthiness of other reports too.

  7. Dr Archit Srivastava Dr Archit Srivastava Tuesday, June 11, 2013
  8. Dr Archit Srivastava Dr Archit Srivastava Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    When I wrote this poem, I never said that clinical trials be stopped. They are must for benefit of the society. My attack was on the “illegal” ones…i repeat “illegal” ones. I am not sermonising anything nor did i take any umbrage to the comments of neerajaji. I refered to comments calling me ‘nonsense’ and asking me to be ‘binned’.
    It seems the purpose of my poem has been served. I have clearly ruffled a few feathers.
    I also find the blame being put on media as laughable.
    Its satyamev jayate all over again. Instead of accepting the rot its better to shoot the messenger. Let our profession be tarnished, but we must label as nonsense as anybody who dares to speak the truth.
    I agree that media might be exaggerating the figures but to say its all hunky-dory is callousness on our part. Why did the highest court take cognizance of the issue if it is all a myth? As far as I know, the courts don’t respond to media reports but to the facts.

  9. Anvita Anvita Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    Neerja has not cast any personal aspersions on the idealist, moralising,sermonising young Dr Archit except the comment that he, himself has perhaps not worked in a clinical trial,because that does make a difference based on facts,experiences and perspectives.
    A vigilant civil society is certainly desirable but one must not lose sight of the downside of medical activism,as commented by Dr Sunill Pandya in following publication:

    Indian J Med Ethics, vol. 9(3) pp. 200-1
    Tarnishing reputations: the downside of medical activism.
    Pandya, SK
    PMID: 22864082
    URL –
    Dr Pandys is a senior neurosurgeon and eminent medical ethicist who has been known for many decade for his scathing criticism of wrong practices by doctors. However in this article he goes on to say that :

    “. This does not mean that unfounded, misguided or vicious allegations be propagated by doctors and laypersons in the media. It is time that a mechanism was laid down for disciplining such vilifiers for slander and libel.”

    “The lay public does not understand the intricacies of clinical trials in particular, and many medical matters in general. Editors of journals (especially those as prestigious as MIMS) and of the national dailies and TV networks carry a special responsibility when reporting on them. It is up to them to explain the pros and cons and double-check their statements. Few of them take the trouble to contact the individual they are about to place in the dock to obtain his version of the event(s) or scrutinise the relevant documents. In the event, they end up accusing innocent physicians and ruining

    “The effect of mass media on the public is strong. In clinical trials, specialized knowledge and technology are required. The associated terms and skills differ from those of general medicine and are not familiar to the public and the media. If information on clinical trials is not properly shared among researchers, patients and media, it can result in chaos…”

    I would also like to draw the attention of the readers to the following letter published by The Lancet in which the original correspondent conceded that the points raised by the authors are well taken.:

    The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9830, Pages 1947 – 1948, 26 May 2012

    Misleading report on clinical trials in India

  10. Saikumar G Saikumar G Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    Already many people are being treated like guinea pigs by the quacks and even by some qualified allopathic doctors in many parts of the country.The drug dosage and the drug combinations are not properly given. Saline is given even for chestpain or tiredness.It was private media which hyped the news that some of the clinical drug trials are being conducted without the consent of the patient and patients are suffering a lot due to drugs given during the clinical drug trial.Every drug will first be administed on four types of animals and then given to healthy volunteers.Then only it will be tested on humans with disease.Once approval is sought in our country,even if the drug is approved and being used in other countries,the clinical drug trial will have to be conducted and report to be submitted before approval in this contry. There are many norms to be fulfilled before a site is alloted.The principal investigator is choosen usually from medical colleges where all facilities exist under one roof.The patient can stop taking drugs on his own at anytime and complain against the doctor to ethics committee if he has any doubt.Some of the patients went to private media and tried to defame the doctors or it was private media which encouraged complaints against doctors.Drug trials are must to develop new effective drugs.But corruption is deep rooted in the minds of people and everybody wants to make quick money.Any clinical drug trial in the hands of corrupt doctor is a risk to the patient.Sometimes times the patient is not given full information and made to sign on the document.Patients complaints are not taken seriously.But big pharmaceutical companies monitor the state and progress of their clinical drug trials frequently.If the private media is against clinical drug trials,probably they expect something from pharmaceutical drug companies or the politicians expect something even to conduct clinical drug trials. Without new drugs many diseases may go out of control because of drug resistance

  11. Manan Manan Monday, June 10, 2013

    Dr. Shrivastava is non sense. Dr. shrivastava if u getting malaria, dont take medicine because the antimalarial drug also passed through clinical trials. Being a Physician you must be knowing about the clinical trials and its benefits. Drug development is not possible without clinical trials. When we are talking about ethics, it should be there. But in today’s era do you treat your patient with ethics only?? imagine your self how many times you favored ethics in your routine practice. Only an investigator can feel happy once a drug is launched after successful trials.

    Dear Dr. Archit being human, being physician.

  12. Manoj singh Manoj singh Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Don’t lose heart Dr. Archit. There will always be two sets of opinions on an issue. I must say that your poem is very good and does not indulge in generalization of all doctors as corrupt.
    Even if one doctor is indulging in such malpractice, it is a matter of grave concern for all of us.
    You appear to be quite young as per your photograph and i must say that it pleases me to see an upcoming fellow medical professional take courage to talk about the taboo topics of our profession.

  13. Akash Akash Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Dear Dr Archit,

    You have framed this poem in a very nice manner. I appreciate it a lot! I have a long discussion with my doctor friends on this issue, mainly around the time when an episode of Satyamaev Jayate on “medical malpractices” was released. No one of them agreed or accepted the fact that Doctors are not doing full justice to pateints! I cited many examples, like prescription of a particular drig under the influence of a favourable MR, treating pateints like lab mouse under high work-load, etc. But all in vain! Same thing is happeneing here with your poem……

  14. Dr. Archit Srivastava Dr. Archit Srivastava Saturday, June 8, 2013

    With due respect to all, I wrote this poem only after thorough reading of the issue. Media may have inflated the figures but there is still truth in the allegations. I believe that majority of doctors are doing a great service to the community but we cannot play blind to the rot that has crept into our noble profession. Even in my poem I have never labelled all doctors as culprits but only those who are involved in this racket. Why is it that ICMR tried to push new guidelines in this issue? If all is rosy as some suggest then can anyone give one logical reason as to why this issue has cropped up in first place. I repeat that I believe majority of doctors are doing great job but we cannot let few greedy ones smear the hippocratic oath with corruption.
    I also found it quite hurtful that questions were raised about my credentials on this forum. It deeply pains me to see that some of us resorted to personal attacks instead of debating the issue in a gentlemanly way as we doctors are expected to do.
    Please listen, read and respond in a way befitting of the title we carry.

  15. Dr. Abhay Pratap Dr. Abhay Pratap Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Yes nobody is infallible, not even the doctors. Please read the links i posted in previous comments. And google for more.

  16. Nipun Nipun Saturday, June 8, 2013

    As far as I am aware Supreme Court has not passed any judgement in this matter.
    The honourable judges have made some comments during the hearings and everybody agrees that the regulatory framework for conduct of drug trials and its monitoring in the country should be robust.
    Nobody is infallible including the Judges. For example the comment that ” people are dying in drug trial” needs to be analysed in scientific context

  17. Dr. Abhay Pratap Dr. Abhay Pratap Saturday, June 8, 2013

  18. Dr. Abhay Pratap Dr. Abhay Pratap Saturday, June 8, 2013
    This is the reality of what happened in MP. Please i urge all my fellow docs to read it and get educated. Stop peddling lies because clearly some here are trying too hard to protect their vested interests.

  19. Neerja Neerja Friday, June 7, 2013

    The fine on doctors in MP was not pertaining to clinical trials but mischievously reported by media as such.
    ” what is the basis for saying that India has been turned into an experiment lab?
    Only 1.5% of world trials are being done in India , that too since 2007 only.
    Before that and even now the so called guineapigs and experimental hubs have been in USA, Europe and Japan . We Indians have been benifitted by so many drugs developed there .

  20. Dr. Abhay Pratap Dr. Abhay Pratap Friday, June 7, 2013

    The doctors criticising this poem are apparently in dark. Such gross irregularities were exposed in madhya pradesh and doctors were fined for their misdemeanor. Media reports are not all lies, as per reports of world media the pharma majors have turned india into an experimental lab. Sad that such ignorance persists in our profession. Instead of criticising or raising question marks on the credentials of a fellow doctor. It would be better if such docs educate themselves by googling a bit.

  21. Prof. Manoj Sharma Prof. Manoj Sharma Friday, June 7, 2013

    This was the lowest of the Aala times for all the times to come.
    If such things are entertained I should rather spam this mail in future.
    What nonsense?
    Who is this Dr. Archit Shrivastava? Such a non serious thought that he and his like minded have and will never be able to find solutions to the health related problems in future years to come.
    I am sure such a minuscule number and their bundles of confusions with words should be binned.

  22. Neerja Neerja Friday, June 7, 2013

    It is unfortunate that the edititors of Aala Times published this misleading poem harming the cause of clinical research. The poem perpetuates many myths about drug trials:
    1. That the illegal drug trials are rampant. NO.
    Almost all the clinical drug trials are legal and ethical,barring a few,very rare exceptions,that to on mere technical or procedural grounds.
    2. That the patients are kept in dark and treated as Guineapig. NO
    The process for taking informed consent is very elaborate and is not possible for patient to remain unaware of his participation in the study.
    3. That the scars are given by the God. NO.
    Even if one may find some procedural lapse here and there,it is never the case that doctors will administer some secret,mysterious ,dangerous drug,knowing that it may be harmful to patient. All trials are done as per the protocol approved by Drug Controller General of India. The study drugs are well known Molekules already tested in animals and human volunteers in phase one and two trials.
    4. That hundreds of thousand of patients have died DUE to trials. NO.
    Hundreds of thousands of patients do die DURING their participation in the trial all over the world and all the deaths are promptly reported to the authorities. Doctors have nothing to hide.
    The odds of dying during a trial are less than those while receiving treatment outside the trial because of more meticulous care. Most of the deaths during study are due to diverse causes like the natural history of the disease itself,or accident or coincidence or idiosyncratic reaction .
    Medical negligence can also be a rare cause, as happens outside the trial.
    It appears that Dr Archit himself has never been a Principal Investigator or a member of the study team himself ,or else he would not have echoed the misplaced sentiments,rhetoric,propaganda and misinformation being propagated by a section of media and so called social activists.
    I demand that the editors of AALA times should publish my response also as a Guest Article so as to balance the presentation.

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