Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Whistleblower: Uganda AIDS Study Bungled

A U.S.-funded study on an AIDS drug was so poorly conducted that it potentially put the lives of hundreds of mothers and babies in Uganda at risk, a government whistleblower said Tuesday.

Dr. Jonathan Fishbein said officials at the National Institutes of Health overlooked problems with the way the study was conducted on the drug, nevirapine, which was being used to protect babies in Africa from HIV infection during birth.
"The actions of the NIH reveal a callous indifference to the fate of Africans," Fishbein said. "African life, it would appear, is not to be valued as highly as American life."
Fishbein did not draw any conclusions about whether nevirapine is a safe or effective drug. Instead, he cited shoddy data collection, careless record-keeping and quality-control issues as some of the problems with the study.

Because of those problems, he said, the results of the study could not be trusted.

"They (NIH) rushed to defend the study without really looking closely at what the problems were, the egregious problems in the study. And they kept defending it and digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole they couldn't get out of," he said.

Oh, please. My government is perfect. It would never discount the value of the lives of victims in faraway places. And my president would never let our government dig itself deeper and deeper into a hole it couldn't get out of.

Nevirapine is an antiretroviral drug used since the 1990s to treat adult AIDS patients and is known to have potentially lethal side effects like liver damage when taken in multiple doses over time.

Concerns surfaced more recently that nevirapine also might cause long-term resistance to further AIDS treatments. It is marketed in the United States as Viramune.

The hearing marked Fishbein's first public testimony since a series of articles by the AP detailing problems with the project.

Fishbein, who is fighting a decision by NIH to fire him, is one of several employees at the government's premier health research agency to question the Uganda study. He was hired by NIH to improve agency research practices.

Fishbein told NIH's AIDS research chief in 2003 that the Uganda study should not be resumed. The agency had stopped the research for 15 months after auditors, medical experts and others disclosed problems with the project. The concerns were dismissed, and the clinics reopened.

Documents show NIH knew of problems with the study in early 2002 but did not tell the White House before President Bush (news - web sites) launched a $500 million plan that summer to use nevirapine throughout Africa.

Fishbein? Sounds jewish. And I'll bet he is one of those reality-based folks. I think we need to tell Porter Goss about him. I'm sure we can turn up something juicy on him.

Oh, wait. Sorry. Had my Little Green Footballs hat on. Nevermind.


Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats