Senator Francis Tolentino questioned on Friday, Oct. 9, the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) involvement in the clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.

TOlentino1 - Tolentino questions DOST’s role in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines
Sen. Francis Tolentino

Speaking in the daily “Laging Handa” briefing of the government, Tolentino said that while he respects the DOST, the matter should be left to the expertise of medical doctors in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Bakit napunta sa DOST (Why was is designated to the DOST)? Ginagalang ko po ‘yon, mga scientist po ‘yon pero dapat po ito purely (I respect that they are also scientists but this is purely a DOH mandate, to include the FDA,” Tolentino said.

“Dahil ang clinical trials po ay tungkol po ito sa medisina. Ginagalang ko po ang DOST…pero ‘yong clinical trials po ay tungkol po sa human anatomy, tungkol po ito sa medicines and medical devices ang kailangan po ay ‘yong mga doktor sa kalusugan (Because clinical trials are about medicine. I respect the DOST, but clinical trials are about human anatomy, about medicines, and medical services that should concern health doctors instead),” the lawmaker noted.

In his privilege speech on Tuesday, Tolentino hit “confusing” pronouncements from the DOH, FDA and the DOST regarding the upcoming clinical trials that the country would participate in.

“Where do the duties, responsibilities, and accountabilities of the DOST, the DOH, and the FDA begin and end?” he asked, saying it should be clarified which agency is on top of the clinical trials.

The DOST leads the Interagency Task Force’s sub technical working group on vaccine development and works with the FDA on the conduct of clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.

It earlier announced that the Philippines has signed confidential data agreements (CDA) with at least seven companies on the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The firms were from Russia, US, Australia, Taiwan and China.

The DOH had said that an approval from the FDA and ethics review board should be secured first before the conduct of any vaccine trial.

“Dapat health authorities ang may hawak kasi maselan po itong tungkol sa bakuna (Health authorities should be in charged because these vaccine trials are sensitive),” Tolentino maintained Friday.

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