New Delhi: The unabated cases of alleged clinical trials of unauthorized drugs by pharmaceutical firms across the country have brought the government in an awkward position.

Concerned over the mayhem in the medical sector, the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday served notice to the Health Ministry.

While the Apex Court has asked the Centre’s stand over a plea for an independent probe into the issue, the NHRC, annoyed with the non-submission of reports in this regard, has asked the Health Ministry to respond within six months or face legal action.

Adivision bench comprising Justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale issued notices to the Centre, the Union Health ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) seeking their replies on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging that the country is being used for illegal clinical trials by multinational pharmaceutical firms because of laxities in the country’s law.

The PIL highlighted the need for new and effective directives in this regard. Besides, the PIL also sought the Apex Court for the set up of a committee led by medical experts and social activists to examine the present legal provisions and subsequent recommendations over improving it.

Making special reference to Indore, the petitioner alleged that innocent people mainly those hailing from tribal and rural belts are being highly victimised due to lack of awareness and literacy. They are being used for unauthorised clinical trials without paying heed to the consequences.

Notably, in a similar clinical trial case in Indore several patients undergoing the trial had died during the trial process.

Meanwhile, the NHRC has expressed wrath over Union Health Secretary, Secretary of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Drug Controller General of India and Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary over the non-submission of reports with regard to unauthorised drug trials on six women in the state.

The NHRC is carrying probe into clinical trial incident in Andhra Pradesh where 25 poor women in Guntur were lured to take part in a cancer drug trial by a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company.

After taking the drug, six women had to be hospitalised for complications, media reports had said.