Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas says the use of St. Kitts and Nevis to conduct tests of a vaccine to cure herpes not only raises ethical questions but promotes the twin island Federation in the international community as a rogue state or a banana republic.
“This scandal has rocked the nation around the world with this negative image,” said Dr. Douglas in response to US media reports that at least 20 American nationals were flown to the Caribbean island to participate in the testing programme between June and August 2016.
International media reports note that at least US$7 million had been pumped into the testing of an experimental drug which did not rely on traditional United States government safety oversight in the first trial.
Neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor a safety panel known as an institutional review board, or IRB, monitored the testing of a vaccine its creators say prevents herpes outbreaks.
Former chief medical officer, Dr. Patrick Martin in a statement Monday said no vaccine trial in the Federation came to his attention when he served from October 1, 2004 to June 16 last year.
Speaking on his weekly radio programme here on Tuesday, Douglas asked “where did the testing of the herpes vaccine take place?
“Where did the material, the drugs, the storage equipment for these vaccines housed? Were there appropriate Customs Declarations? That is why we say that the government must know and our people must not be misled by this government which we know will claim it does not know,” he added.
The former prime minister accused the present administration of exposing citizens to reputational damage on the altar of personal greed and enrichment and has demanded answers to several other questions raised by the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis after the scandal broke in the US media.