Niugini BioMed: What is this madness?
What is the process of drug development?

Marape's K10m spend on Covid 'research'

Dr William Pomat
Dr William Pomat - concerned his medical research institute was bypassed

| ABC Pacific Beat

MELBOURNE - The director of the PNG Institute of Medical Research, Dr William Pomat, says he was not consulted before the country's cabinet approved a K10-million grant to a private company for Covid-19 research.

Meanwhile, prime minister James Marape says there is nothing "illegal or improper" about the plan to spend millions of dollars on an unknown treatment.

Niugini BioMed was only established in August, and its registered office is at the Chemistry Division at the University of PNG.

A leaked cabinet submission seen by the ABC recommends Niugini BioMed work with PNG’s Health Department, the PNG Medical Research Institute, as well as provincial health authorities and the National AIDS Council, to “immediately run clinical trials”.

But PNG's Institute of Medical Research director, Dr William Pomat says he knows nothing about the company.

"I have not heard or been involved with any discussions with this group. I am concerned that the PNG Institute for Medical Research has been overlooked in trying to get this through."

In a statement, Marape said the process of engaging the company "to find a cure for Covid-19" is not yet complete.

He said the "young and competent PNG scientists" presented their case that they "may be on to something big".

The leaked document outlined how a team of scientists from UPNG presented their findings to the Marape in early August, along with pandemic controller David Manning, the two education ministers and the World Health Organisation country director.

PNG's Health Minister, Sir Puka Temu revealed he was not present at the cabinet meeting where the grant was approved.

"Cabinet approved the submission through the prime minister. I was away in the provincial assembly meeting so I was not aware of the submission."

But he's thrown his support behind the project.

"My view is that because Covid-19 is still new, it makes good sense for us to get a combination of therapeutic agents and research it," Temu said.

The documents seen by the ABC suggest researchers from UPNG have “scanned and analysed” 30,000 drugs from around the world to develop a combination therapy.


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Ross Wilkinson

I find it strange, if not downright peculiar, that Marape makes this decision well after Australia has committed to provide a proven vaccine amongst other Covid assistance to Pacific nations.

Australian and world research is far advanced both technically and timewise in this process so, as another article states, wouldn't it be better to allocate this money to other forms of relief.

It would seem that this is merely a prime minister looking to be seen to be doing something positive whilst featherbedding some dubious start-up venture.

William Dunlop

Indeed, Lindsay, you have it in a nutshell. Bearing in mind the quantity of care generated by edjits of political preservation.

Lindsay F Bond

Ah, William, would you find in Ulster any with utter willingness for the 'cure' that a startup in PNG presents as claimed?

Then again, maybe the word 'cure' is a misprint for the word 'care'.

I read that in Ulster, a major focus is on a "Covid-19 Point of Care antibody test".

There is hope for their "finger prick blood tests".

I guess that involves small price of pain for a gain of knowing.

Next need, and for politicians, is a anti-quaff test for aural inputs.

Philip Kai Morre

The world is still searching for a therapeutic drug to cure Covid-19 while PNG scientists are already talking about moving to manufacture a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. The medical experts are yet to prove whether this research is proper and can be verified.

So far, China, the Middle East, Greece and the Arabs who accumulated knowledge in inventing medicine many thousands of years ago have not created one.

Advanced countries are spending millions and billions on research and they haven't yet found any drugs that work, although a number of drugs are being tested.

However, health experts and scientists have created better ways of treating Covid-19 patients. This is helping save lives but it is not a cure

William Dunlop

Lindsay - It would appear that Ali Baba is alive and well under the patronage of the PM, James Marape. Beggoorragh!

Lindsay F Bond

Prime Minister James Marape makes a 'captain's call'?

Seemingly surreal, certainly sudden, seriously circumventing.

That "combination of therapeutic agents" may yet prove a cocktail of enriching potency.

For whom, PM, pray tell?

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