Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ko Wen-je condemns latest KMT attack

SWING AND A MISS:The independent contender for Taipei mayor was incensed at ‘guinea pig claims’ from a KMT legislator regarding research and clinical trials

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Independent Taipei mayoral hopeful Ko Wen-je talks to the press in Taipei on Friday.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Independent Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), former head of National Taiwan University Hospital’s (NTUH) Department of Traumatology, lashed out after another accusation from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) over Ko’s professional conduct, with the legislator this time alleging that Ko treated patients as “guinea pigs” for new drugs.

Responding to the allegation, Ko said the criticism was “maddening” and “going overboard,” saying that all clinical trial procedures “adhere to due regulations announced by the Department of Health [now the Ministry of Health and Welfare].”

Lo on Friday said that Ko and his team had been doing “medical product endorsements and treating NTUH patients as guinea pigs,” citing the hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit’s (SICU) Web site for the enrichment of patients’ medical knowledge, in which the hospital’s clinical trial projects are introduced.

The Web site says the unit is aiming at being the “tip of the Greater China market,” where new medical products undergo clinical trials before they become commercially available in the Greater China market and that Taiwan’s SICU could help endorse products or become the seed member.

It also says that the unit is targeting phase-two and phase-three clinical trials to study the efficacy of a medical product in people of Chinese ethnicity to be conducted locally.

Lo said Ko could work with pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials, but the products should benefit Taiwanese, rather than “using our patients as guinea pigs and then selling them [the products] in China.”

“How much profit do you get when you endorse those products? He was a civil servant as an NTU physician. Was he allowed to do product endorsements?” Lo said.

The document Lo cited also asserts that the goal of becoming the “tip of the Greater China market” is a “mid-term” one.

“The long-term goal is to work on local research and development and to stop being the ‘research subcontractor’ of European and US pharmaceutical companies… The projects could help the SICU study team accumulate experience and hone their training,” the document reads.

“The Greater China market has more than 1.3 billion potential consumers from [China’s] Heilongjian [Province] to Singapore, including Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and the Sinophone groups in Southeast Asia,” according to the Web site.

Ko on Friday night said that clinical trials are a standard procedure for testing any kind of new treatment and an important upstream process for pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

“The NTUH has put a lot of effort and money into establishing the clinical trial center and applied for US accreditation for it. It is a major project for the NTUH in order to have control over the upstream biotechnology industry,” Ko said.

“Are you criticizing me or the NTUH who reviewed the projects? Or the health department that had supervised the execution of the projects?” he added.

Ko said that the mudslinging culture in Taiwan’s election campaigns should not be tolerated any longer and called on the public to denounce such injustices.

“Has the KMT paid the price for the ‘Yu Chang (宇昌) case,’ in which it sacrificed the biotechnology industry just to attack [then-Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate] Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) [during the presidential campaign in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election]?” Ko asked.

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