Migrants queue up for clinical trials


Chennai: Making a fast buck is no mo­re a tough job for mig­rant workers and unemp­lo­yed youths in the city.
Several clinical research organisations have started to accept volunteers from the disadvantaged sections. Investigations by the DC reveal this serious trend.
Exploiting the background of these unemployed youth and migrant workers in the city, these labs are least bothered to inform the participants about the possible after-effects of the trial.  
Rs 10,000 for two days of drug trial
Unshaved, unkempt, I addressed myself as a person desperate for money. The gates of clinical research organisations are always open to people in dire need of money.
After a little scrutiny, the lab guards showed me to a waiting room. I switched on my spy pen. It was 11.30 am and soon people from various lingual backgrounds — Biharis, Telugus, migrant workers from different parts of the country and jobless graduates from Tamil Nadu - occupied the room.
Nudging a volunteer, in his late 20s, I asked how much they would pay. “Rs 10,000 for two days,” he assured. A roll call followed in 10 minutes and an ‘informed consent form’ — in Tamil— was circulated among the prospective volunteers, which had details about compensation and adverse effects — but in fine print. The filled in forms were submitted in five minutes.
When a six-foot-tall staff asked me where I come from, I said I work in a godown and needed money. “You have to stay here for two days and we will pay you advance after a day. Nothing will happen to you,” he assured me.
When after an hour, I was called for a blood test, I thought I had gone far enough. I mumbled about another appointment and promised to return with my friend. And they let me go.
All the while I was holding my spy pen taking video footage. My heart skipped a beat when the official suddenly asked for my ‘pen’.
I swallowed hard when he took my ‘pen’ and signed some papers. I rushed out as he returned the pen.

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