23 April 2010

INDIA PUTS CERVICAL CANCER VACCINE TRIALS ON HOLD

NEW DELHI, April 23 (Bernama) -- India said it would cease cervical cancer vaccine trials conducted on children, following reports of six deaths in two states, raising a poser on the drug's safety.

India Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad denied charges that Indian girls were used as "guinea pigs" for anti-cervical cancer drug trials and directed that all trials were stopped, pending expert investigation.

Speaking in Parliament, he said HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, imported and promoted by two foreign pharmaceutical giants, had been stopped in the country immediately.

The "efficacy and safety" of the drug was questioned in Parliament after several deaths were reported in the state of Andra Pradesh and Gujarat, forcing the opposition to demand that the government probe the matter.

"Although prima facie, there does not appear to be a connection between the deaths and the vaccination, for our satisfaction and to allay the apprehensions, the states have been advised not to carry out any further vaccinations, till further orders," said Azad.

About 25,000 girls aged between 10 and 14, have been administered the vaccine.

Four deaths in Andhra Pradesh and two deaths in Gujarat were reported among the children administered the vaccine.

An American non-governmental organisation was given permission to carry out the trials in India.

Over 130,000 Indian women suffer from cervical cancer yearly and in 2008, 76,000 patients died due to the disease.

-- BERNAMA

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