Photo; Dr. Patrick Martin
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 28TH 2017 – Dr. Patrick Martin, who was Chief Medical Officer from October 1st 2004 to 16th June 2016 said Monday he was not aware of a herpes vaccine trial in St. Kitts and Nevis during that period.
Media reports in the United States state that St. Kitts and Nevis was involved in an off-shore testing of an experimental herpes vaccine from April to August in 2016.
“I was active as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) from 1st October 2004 to 16th June 2016. During the period, no vaccine trial in the Federation came to my attention,” said Dr. Martin.
The Daily Beast, a 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.
This is the second medical ethics issues to have arisen in the federation within the past two years since the Team Unity Government of St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris took office in February 2015.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Patrick Martin in June 2016, stopped an unauthorised and illegal stem cell operation taking place at St. Kitts’ Joseph N France General Hospital without his knowledge and approval as required by the Public Health Act. A Brazilian doctor who was overseeing the procedure was not registered or licensed to practice in the Federation.
Following his decision, Dr. Patrick Martin was sent on pre-retirement leave the same day. His pre-retirement leave which should have ended in November 2017 was brought to an end on July 14th 2017 when two uniformed police officers delivered a letter from the Office of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.
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.”