The leader of the opposition in St Kitts and Nevis has said that reports of drug testing in the federation in an effort to avoid US safety regulations could negatively affect the country’s international reputation.
In a long radio on his weekly Kyss 102.5FM show, Denzil Douglas pointed a number of questions towards the government.
“Where did the testing of the herpes vaccine take place? Where did the material, the drugs, the storage equipment for these vaccines housed?” he asked.
“Were there appropriate customs declarations? That is why we say that the government must know and our people must not be misled by this government which we know will claim it does not know.”
Earlier this week WIC News reported that an American website, the Daily Beast, ran an article stating that an American university and a group of wealthy libertarians backed an “unethical” off-shore vaccine test last year.
“Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor a safety panel known as an institutional review board, or IRB, monitored the testing of a vaccine its creators say prevents herpes outbreaks,” wrote author Marisa Taylor, a correspondent with Kaiser Health News.
Among the investors was prominent Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel.
So far there has been no comment from the Prime Minister Timothy Harris or his government.
Rogue state reputation?
The report states that at least US$7 million has been pumped into the trials, and that 20 participants were flown to the island for treatment.
According to sources in the federation, Dr Patrick Martin – who was chief medical officer from 2004 to 2016 – was unaware of any vaccine trial.
“Was the upgrading of the hospital funded by the group that brought some 20 herpes-infected patients to St Kitts in 2016 and vaccinated them with trial drugs?” said Douglas, who was prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis between 1995 and 2015.
“We want to know and demand answers from the prime minister and the ministry of health. Were the tests carried out at the Pogson Medical Center in Sandy Point or a private residence of one the cronies of this government?”
This is the second medical ethics issues to have arisen in the federation this year.
A stem cell research project was suddenly halted by the St Kitts-Nevis chief medical officer earlier this summer. Following public statements on the matter, Dr Martin said he was forced into retirement.