Pfizer, Singapore, and World Peace

Posted On // Leave a Comment

okay world peace was irrelevant, but anyway,

Singapore aims to be centre for first phase of clinical trials

A few questions here. First, do these clinical trials pose any health risks, and what safeguards does the government have to ensure that these trials are safe? Second, what benefits does holding the trial in Singapore provide?

On the first question, a few things have to be ascertained. What is Pfizer's track record like? What are the possibilities of regulatory capture by Pfizer? Does the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore have a stringent enough check? Or are they being overwhelmed by the economic stimulation they expect to gain. Also, what happens to the patients who are being put through clinical trials? Do they receive the proper compensations if the trials fail? Is it right to treat them as guinea pigs?

For one, Pfizer's track record isn't exactly stellar, while I can't exactly provide statistics to back this up, there have been instances of Pfizer undermining the FDA in USA, and supposedly independent scientific journals. These instances demonstrate Pfizer's willingness and ability to bring the relevant Singapore authorities under a situation of regulatory capture. Nevertheless, Singapore does seem rather corrupt free and unlikely to lose their senses in the face of dollars being flashed at them, as was the case with the FDA, where much of their funding essentially came from drug companies such as Pfizer. This is especially so given that unlike the FDA, the regulatory arms of our government don't seem to be suffering from a lack of funding.

The next issue is of whether the rights of patients will be protected. There is probably little point worrying about this since patients do consent to begin with, and such drugs are probably not deadly since they have already been tested on lab mice before. However, the fact that the FDA has not approved many clinical trials in the USA does raise questions. While it may be possible that the FDA is simply inefficient, their failure to approve these clinical trials could be due to the fact that these trials are to begin with, not trustworthy.

On the next big issue, what benefits are there for Singapore? One of them is obviously having a headstart in this industry, especially so in the region. However, Singapore's small population as well as composition does indeed pose some problems for any clinical research. Apart from the fact that Pfizer probably did their research before deciding to settle here, Singapore's small population severely limits the people for Pfizer to choose from. While it is possible to have people from other countries fly in, there might be some legal issues when it comes to failed experiments. Given these limitations, what benefits might there be left for Singapore in terms of this industry?

Further, any botches by Pfizer would probably see Singapore's reputation as a corrupt-free state being tarnished. Economically beneficial as Pfizer might seem to be, I prefer to think of it as being highly likely of dragging Singapore down with them.

Lastly, clinical trials by a drug company with all the vested interests in showing positive results does seem a little suspicious. Given that this is true, there are two possible outcomes.
1- Someone reveals the flaws in the clinical trials, ruin the reputation of Pfizer, and dragging down Singapore along.
2- No one reveals the flaws in clinical trials HERE, but they do elsewhere, and demand for clinical trials is reduced. While this may not have a severe effect on us in the short term, it does seem untenable to invest so much in an area we know is going to fail