By K. S. Harikrishnan, IPS | Staff, Rediff Business. American pharmaceutical companies, taking advantage of a Congressional provision called The Pediatric Exclusivity Provision, have been carrying out clinical trials in poor and developing countries where the drugs might never be available. In India there were over 2,000 deaths in the last four years from serious-adverse events (SAE) during clinical trials, many of which were illegally done without consent. These deaths and a recent discovery of drug testing on Bhopal gas victims have ignited the wrath of rights activists and prompted prominent legal institutions to begin to tighten the country’s drug regulation laws.
By George Dvorsky, io9 | By Francis Kagolo and Ismael Kasooha, New Vision. In mid-June 2012, scientists reported that Ebola-infected monkeys could be cured by the administration of a chemical cocktail within 24 hours of the initial exposure. About one month later, there was an Ebola outbreak in Uganda and after this, an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These news beg a number of questions on ethics.
By Dady Chery, Haiti Chery (English) | Renaud Piarroux and Claire Hedon, Priorite Sante (French). Contrary to the daily predictions of mayhem from the mainstream press about Haiti’s cholera epidemic, Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who has access to up-to-date medical information and laboratory results about the epidemic, says it is waning and now exists only as a series of clusters in the North of the country. Based on his extensive experience in controlling epidemics of tropical diseases, he adds that cholera could be completely eradicated from Haiti in a few months, but not by the oral vaccination campaign promoted by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population. (English | French)
By Dady Chery, Haiti Chery. A medical trial in Haiti — presumably of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol — on poor women and children is being presented as a vaccination campaign. To avoid possible abuse it is essential that the Declaration of Helsinki guidelines be followed. The medical trial should be monitored by a panel of impartial observers; potential medical subjects should be advised of their rights, including the fact that they are entitled to informed consent, health monitoring, and participation that is voluntary, without coercion and with the option to withdraw at any time. UPDATES: April 12, Additional information about involvement of Harvard scientists in promoting oral vaccines for Haiti. April 17, Information on Shanta’s manufacture of the pentavalent vaccine Shan5 recommended for recall and destruction by the World Health Organization.
By Aline Sainsoivil, Le Matin | Translation and editorial comment by Dady Chery, Haiti Chery. Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) presented a plan to strengthen its “Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI)” at a meeting on Monday, March 12, with UN organizations UNICEF, PAHO, and WHO. Might this strengthened EPI involve a plan to administer oral cholera vaccines? (English | French)
By Rashid Haider, Haiti Chery. Prof. Richard A. Finkelstein, an eminent microbiologist and Nobel-Prize nominee for his pioneering studies on cholera, advises that for cholera “the best solution resides in providing safe drinking water and sewage disposal.” In Dec 2010, alarmed by the oral vaccination plans for Haiti, he wrote to the health officials, including Jon Andrus, the Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that the proposed use of Dukoral was “a useless and expensive waste of resources.” This vaccine was not adopted, but a campaign immediately started for the use of Shanchol, another questionable oral cholera vaccine. (English | French)
By Claire Provost, The Guardian | Editorial note by Dady Chery, Haiti Chery. A policy of “tied aid” has until now required that USAID foreign aid funds be spent on goods and services exclusively from U.S. companies. This policy has been changed to allow USAID to buy many goods and services from developing countries, but not food aid, motor vehicles, or U.S.-patented pharmaceuticals. Given the USAID tradition of creating a need for its aid, it is easy to guess what its next moves will be.
By Dady Chery, Haiti Chery | Staff ([jep kft gp apr), AlterPresse. According to Haitian Director General of the Department of Public Health and Population (MSPP), Gabriel Timothee, initial tests of a cholera vaccine are scheduled to start in Haiti in February in “disadvantaged areas” of Port-au-Prince and the Plateau Central [meaning on poor folk in Cite Soleil and the region most impoverished by the collapse of farming]. “Studies of the vaccination will be conducted in collaboration with a center called Haitian Studies of Kaposi syndrome and opportunistic infections (Gheskio) and Zanmi Lasante (Partners in Health, PIH).” This is worrying because Kaposi syndrome and opportunistic infections are associated with AIDS, not cholera. (English | French)
By Rashid Haider, Haiti Chery | Editorial Comment by Dady Chery, Haiti Chery. From the moment cholera appeared in Haiti, a series of “experts” started to promote oral cholera vaccines for the country in articles that did not require a declaration of conflicts of interest or a critical review by independent scientists who study cholera. Here Rashid Haider, who is knowledgeable about the cholera trials in Bangladesh and Peru, provides a devastating rebuttal of the most recent of such articles, which extensively quotes Paul Farmer and appeared in the January 12th issue of Scientific American. DC
By Dr. Rashid Haider, The Independent | Ahmed Sadiq, News from Bangladesh | Translated by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery. Incidents of scientific fraud involving fabrication and falsification have reached a record high, and one area that requires careful scrutiny is vaccine trials in far-away developing countries where both infectious disease and corruption are endemic. A detailed report of Bangladesh’s 2011 field trials for the Shanchol vaccine — currently being pushed on Haiti — thoroughly disproves claims made by western scientists about this vaccine. The report is provided here. (English | French)
By Rashid Haider, Haiti Chery | Editorial comment by Dady Chery, Haiti Chery. Cholera vaccines are being pushed on Haiti, especially Shanchol, a vaccine that protects only 45% of those vaccinated during the first year and is unsuitable for controlling epidemic or endemic cholera. Shanchol is expensive. In addition, preparations of it for use in developing countries contain the dangerous mercury-based preservative thiomersal.
By Marcelo Bolshaw Gomes, Entheogene. Rare frogs are drawing a lot of scientific interest these days, partly because the slimes of some frogs have been found to contain important medicinal substances. This is a fascinating article that contrasts the ways of indigenous people from the Amazon with Kambô – a frog that secretes a medicinal slime – to the ways of bioprospecting and biopirating westerners. DC
By Humberto Márquez, IPS. Traditional Yanomami Indian medicine discovered that some fungi at the top of Venezuelan mountains can be used to treat many serious illnesses. These fungi will soon be a new source of the anti-cancer drug Taxol that makes US $1.6 billion a year for the pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb. The proceeds will not be shared with the Yanomami. The skin slime of some frogs is another important source of drugs for big pharma from traditional medicine. (English | Spanish)