‘Unethical’ medical testing conducted in St Kitts, says US website

St Kitts and Nevis hosted an “unethical” off-shore vaccine test last year, according to The Daily Beast.

The US-based publication, which it’s editor-in-chief says looks for “scoops, scandals and stories about secret worlds”, reports that an American university and a group of wealthy libertarians, including prominent Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel, backed the testing of an experimental herpes drugs.

At least US$7 million has been pumped into the trials, which did not rely on traditional US safety oversight in the first trial.

“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.

“Most of the 20 participants were Americans with herpes who were flown to the island several times to be vaccinated, according to Rational Vaccines, the company that oversaw the trial.“

There has so far been no comment from the St Kitts and Nevis government on these allegations, or the opposition.

Patient protection

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.

Dr Patrick Martin said he was unaware what was going on, but following his public statements on the matter, he was removed from his position – insisting he was forced into retirement.

Kayte Spector-Bagdady, who leads the University of Michigan Medical School’s Research Ethics Service, said the St Kitts trial could be seen as a violation of Southern Illinois University’s commitment to the Department of Health and Human Services.

SIU voluntarily agreed to follow US safety requirements and set up a safety panel known as an institutional review board for all research involving human subjects, according to records.

“What they’re doing is patently unethical,” said Jonathan Zenilman, chief of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Infectious Diseases Division.

“There’s a reason why researchers rely on these protections. People can die.”

Genital herpes is caused by two viruses that can trigger outbreaks of painful sores. Many patients have no symptoms, though a small number suffer greatly.

The virus is primarily spread through sexual contact, but also can be released through skin.

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