PRESS RELEASE: RITM appeals to mainstream media for help in educating public and clarifying misconceptions against clinical researches

March 9, 2018 | Manila, Philippines — RITM, in partnership with the Siyasik PH team, conducted SalinSiyensiya, a media engagement activity with the aims of shedding light on the science behind the conduct of clinical trials to prevent further misunderstandings and spread of misinformation to the public.

The development of any new drug or vaccine is critical to the prevention of infectious diseases and RITM conducts clinical trials to provide technical information which can help policy makers assess the safe and effective use of these interventions in the public health landscape. However, the recent unfortunate events surrounding the dengue vaccine issue, further aggravated by the proliferation of misinformation, have caused undue panic and distrust among the public. In particular, the perceived issue of a ‘conflict of interest” in the conduct of a clinical trial casted doubts and put into question the integrity of our scientists in the medical and scientific community.

RITM Director Dr. Socorro P. Lupisan emphasized that investigators and clinical trialists ensure the safety of the participants first and foremost, and secure proper implementations of protocols according to international and national ethical guidelines. As in any other collaborative research projects, they are given due compensation for the conduct of the study. “Generally, clinical trialists do not analyze the research data of a clinical trial because majority of clinical trials are multi-centered, involving several study sites and several investigators locally and internationally. Furthermore, with multiple Review Boards, Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) and Independent Data Monitoring Committees (IDMC) monitoring and evaluating the conduct of clinical trials, it should be apparent to anyone that there really is no place for conflict of interest in clinical research. Data are pooled and analyzed by the pharmaceutical company and results are eventually published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Investigators have no role in the licensing of the product.”

Prior to and during the implementation of a clinical trial, various independent and internationally-recognized institutional research review boards review the research protocols. This is to ensure the safety of the research participants and the integrity of research information; and that all the researches will be conducted under the ethical principles of the Declaration of Helsinki–the cornerstone standard in human research ethics developed by the World Medical Association. Moreover, third party research organizations will monitor these researches to ensure that the research activities through the trial will remain within the bounds of Good Clinical Practice.

The mainstream media is undeniably one of the most accessible source of information for the general public and we appeal to our partner media practitioners to support us in our efforts to assuage the public and bring back their trust to our scientists. Communicating science to public should be a responsibility of both the scientific community and the media.

It is our Institute’s mission to protect the Filipinos against infectious, tropical, and dermatological diseases through the conduct of globally competitive research, training, clinical and diagnostic services, and production of biologicals—all in the name of public service.