Thursday, 1 August 2013

New India Assurance company has decided to stop charging additional premium for those with diabetes and hypertension under its revised health insurance policy.

1. The state-owned insurer has also withdrawn a clause from its policy that excluded cover for ailments caused by tobacco consumption. The new health insurance policy, however, continues to exclude cirrhosis of lever caused by alcoholism. The earlier practice of having a four-year cooling period for pre-existing conditions will continue. This means that if a diabetic buys a policy, the coverage for diabetes related hospitalization will begin only after four years.

2.      Several US and Canadian companies have stopped clinical trials in India following an amendment to the rules which makes it mandatory for companies and educational institutions to meet all medical expenses of those who volunteer for clinical trials.

The new Drugs and Cosmetics (First Amendment) Rules, 2013, states that for an injury/illness, occurring to a clinical trial subject, he or she shall be given free medical management as long as required. "This does not specify what type or cause of injury. Thus a trial participant may be involved in a traffic accident or assaulted by someone, but under the open-ended clause, the trial sponsor has to cover all costs.

Another clause calls for financial compensation to be paid over and above costs of medical management in the case in the event of any illness, considered trial-related. But there is no clarity on what constitutes trial-related injury. Again any medication cannot work all the time. A person whose cancer was not stopped from progressing may claim compensation under this clause even though the treatment was effective during the trial.

We must also make a distinction between death of a patient during a clinical trial and death due to clinical trial. Patients who participate in clinical trials already have a disease which could be mild or serious. The death of a patient in a clinical trial could be due to various reasons, including a natural progression of the disease, new diseases, age-related disorders, or an unrelated complication. Patients who participate in a clinical trial receive greater degree of medical care than they would have under regular treatment because of the high level of investigations and patient management that a clinical study protocol requires.

According to the 
ministry of health, 89 deaths were attributed to clinical trials between 2005 and 2012 of which compensation was paid in 82 cases. [TOI excerpts]
3.      Less than a fortnight after rejecting pleas for lowering the age of juveniles from 18 years to 16 years in heinous crimes, the Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a PIL arguing that a juvenile's culpability should be determined on his mental maturity rather than physical age. Additional solicitor general Siddhartha Lutheran opposed the PIL and informed a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Rojana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi that on July 17, the apex court had decided a bunch of petitions rejecting pleas to lower the age of juveniles to 16 years.

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