2 lakh Chinese forced to take drugs for research?

Some two lakh residents in Shandong were forced to take drugs as part of a medical experiment for gastric disorders.

Last Updated: Jan 15, 2012, 20:20 PM IST

Beijing: Some two lakh residents in Shandong
province in eastern China were forced to take drugs as part of
a medical experiment for gastric disorders, an Internet
blogger has alleged, prompting a local official to say that
the treatment was "voluntary".

Provincial officials have denied claims made in a recent
microblog post which said that more than two lakh residents in
Linqu County were taking unknown drugs delivered by the local
health department, and some residents suspect they are part of
a medical experiment, the state media reported.

"The event may be driven by profits, some departments
or officials ignoring people`s health, we need to find out the
truth," wrote an Internet user wrote on Sina Weibo, China`s
most popular Twitter-like microblog, state-run Xinhua news
agency reported today.

Thousands of netizens have since forwarded the post and
voiced concern about people in the county.

However, the mass use of drugs in Linqu County is
voluntary and is an attempt to battle gastric diseases
prevalent in the area, the report quoted officials and some
local residents as saying.

According to Wang Wenxiao, chief of the village`s
Communist Party committee, Xujiashangzhuang village. The
health department of Linqu county supplied free medicine for
some villagers to reduce incidences of gastric diseases.

"Villagers between 25 to 55 years old received health
checkups before taking medicine, and 185 of them were
diagnosed with helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) infection, which
would cause gastric cancers or other gastrosias," said Wang.

However, a few villagers said they had some adverse
reactions to the treatment, the report said.

"The four kinds of medicine that the people took were
omeprazole, tetracycline, metronidazole and bismuth potassium
citrate, which are all regular prescriptions for gastric
diseases, not new testing drugs," said Wang.

In June 2010, Beijing Cancer Hospital, the
International Digestive Cancer Alliance and the Technical
University of Munich jointly launched an intervention project
for mass H.pylori infection, aiming to treat 200,000 residents
in the area of Linqu County within two to three years.

"Linqu County is a place with high gastric cancer
incidence in east China, with the incidence rate here being
about two times the average in the country," said Zhang Lian,
a professor with Beijing Cancer Hospital who is in charge of
the project and has been working in Linqu more than 20 years.

"So we launched free health checkups and treatment for
the masses, and promote the research in an intensive way,"
Zhang said, adding that all the checkups and treatments are
based on individual agreement, and they can give up the
treatment anytime."

PTI