Press Release
October 7, 2020

Tolentino pushes cooperation among gov't agencies to ensure smooth clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine

Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino called on concerned government agencies to get their act together and work hand-in-hand to ensure the smooth conduct of scheduled clinical trials of potential coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

During his privilege speech on Wednesday, Tolentino expressed concern about the conflicting statements from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the conduct of clinical trials in the country.

"Where do the duties, responsibilities, and accountabilities of the DOST, the DOH, and the FDA begin and end?" Tolentino asked, adding that it should be clarified which agency is really on top of the clinical trials.

According to Tolentino, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said during the budget hearing that the Philippines has signed confidential data agreements (CDA) on COVID-19 vaccines involving at least five countries.

Dela Peña, however, denied any knowledge when asked about reports that there are alleged COVID-19 vaccines already being distributed in the country and if they underwent proper licensing procedures.

"This statement is as alarming as it is confusing. This begs the question: who is really in-charge of clinical trials on COVID-19 treatments in the country?" Tolentino noted.

In addition, Tolentino is baffled that DOH and DOST keep on announcing the schedule of clinical trials in the country despite the FDA's claim that it has not approved any application for such activity.

Aside from clarifying the responsibilities of concerned government agencies, Tolentino also called for a roadmap from them on how to coordinate and conduct the clinical trials.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Local Governments, Tolentino also called on the government to come up with a clear communication plan to help local governments understand their roles in the clinical trials.

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