Poe asks DOH, FDA: Fast track vaccine approvals to dispel doubts
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe asked the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday to speed up the processing of emergency use authorization (EUA) applications for COVID-19 vaccines to dispel suspicions that officials are just waiting for grease money to expedite approval.
During the Senate committee of the whole hearing, FDA director-general Eric Domingo said their office should complete the processing of Pfizer’s EUA application this week while AstraZeneca’s application should be processed by next week.
However, Poe believes that the process can be shortened. Currently, the processing of the applications takes 21 days.
“If the virus won’t kill us, then red tape and slow government action surely will,” Poe said.
“The process can be shortened… Para mawala ang mga haka-haka ng ating mga kababayan na siguro naghihintay ng kickback ang DOH kaya hindi agad nabibigyan ng permit. It may be an unfair assessment but would you blame them with the track record the DOH has,” the senator added.
Poe recognized that stringent processing is crucial especially if records on the trials of the vaccines are not transparent and regulators in the home country of the pharmaceutical companies are not perceived to be credible.
However, the senator also said FDA should speed up the process when a EUA application comes from companies and countries with a better track record, saying these firms “have gone through a rigorous process of testing in countries with reputable testing facilities…”
“Alam na nga nating national emergency, we cannot even fast track something like this,” Poe said.
“The process seems unreasonably long, to accredit a company that has already been accredited so many times in other countries,” she added.
Poe also pointed out that the “government has overlooked that the private sector is not only more efficient but also unencumbered by the restrictions under the procurement law.”
“Wala silang limitation on signing contracts for products which are still under development. It’s their money, so they assume the financial and associated risk,” Poe said.
“So it really baffles me why the government is busy restricting private companies when we should be working with them to overcome the limitations in our laws and regulations,” she added.
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