Indian activists have accused GlaxoSmithKline and MSD Pharmaceuticals of conducting illegal tests of their HPV vaccines on tribal girls in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The Supreme Court said on Monday that the local activists filed a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging that the companies tested two unproven HPV vaccines designed to prevent cervical cancer – gardasil and cervarix – on 24,000 girls, including 44 patients at the Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital.

Of these 44 patients tested, 10 were male, said the report.

The Times of India reports that the PIL, filed by Kalpana Mehta of Indore, Nalini Bhanot and V Rukmini Rao representing Gramya Resource Centre for Women, alleges that the testing led to adverse effects on the girls’ health.

Seven girls allegedly died during the vaccine trial.

Justice S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra have directed the Union government to immediately file its reply on the issue.

The Christian Medical College, Vellore, has also been asked by the apex court to examine the medical records of the girls in question.

Image: Unproven HPV vaccines gardasil and cervarix are alleged to have been illegally tested on tribal girls.