Second of two parts
Clinical trials and the anti-dengue cocktail
But the bigger story is about the anti-dengue cocktail that is ActRx Triact, the clinical trials for which were started in 2012, as ordered by Dr. Ona. Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin stopped the clinical trials the moment she stepped in, declaring that it had “no legal basis” as it had yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At that point the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) had questioned the soundness of the science behind the clinical trials. Since then the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), and members of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) have thrown their support behind Garin’s decision to stop the trials. These organizations question the science and ethics behind the clinical trials, and assert the dangers it poses to the public’s health. Dr. Sylvia Claudio has called the science behind the clinical trials “crap,” saying that it is “a medical horror story.”
The basis of the medical sectors’ criticism of the ActRX Triact is a May 19 2014 Final Report on its clinical trial. It’s a report that they are all apparently privy to, but which has yet to be made public. Unsurprisingly, the results of the report itself are not mentioned nor discussed at length by any of these critics. So we don’t know exactly what they mean when they say the science is questionable, neither are we being told if in fact the trials revealed positive results.
Instead we are being told to believe this: the science behind the ActRX Triact trials were questionable and unethical, ergo it should not be tested on a larger number of patients. But one can’t help but wonder: were the results of the first clinical trials in fact positive, therefore it is a valid recommendation to test it on a larger number of patients?
Too there is this: if the ActRX Triact trials revealed positive results, does it not behoove our medical community and organizations to be transparent about these clinical trial results? Tell the public exactly what was wrong with it, but also what the results were, and engage us all in a dialogue about public health, medical and alternative treatments, so we might also discuss notions of ethics and science, vis a vis dire need and compassionate use of these new promising treatments?
But alas, we apparently are not worthy of intelligent discussion, and media seems complicit in the silencing of Dr. Ona. It is not that the Health Secretary refuses to speak at this point, it is that media has also stopped asking questions of these medical organizations and practitioners who have so brazenly and shamelessly taken a stand against this man.
For the lone alternative take on Dr. Ona’s decision to begin ActRX Triact clinical trials, and a discussion on science, alternative therapies, repurposed medicines and compassionate use, read Dr. Godofredo Stuart Jr.’s “In Defense of Dr. Ona” (http://stuartsantiago.com/in-defense-of-dr-ona) and “In Defense of the Anti-Dengue Cocktail” (http://stuartsantiago.com/in-defense-of-the-anti-dengue-cocktail/#more-9630).
[The first part of Radikalchick’s column on Dr. Ona appeared yesterday (Sunday, which with Thursday, is her regular day of publication.]