Yemeni Pharmacists’ Union warns Houthis against unethical medical testing

The head of the Yemeni Pharmacists' Union warned the Houthis against turning Yemeni patients into “guinea pigs” for the group’s purported medical research, following an announcement by the Houthis’ top health official that the group is conducting “extensive research” to produce a cure for COVID-19. 

Dr. Fadl Harrab, head of the Yemeni Pharmacists’ Union, warned the Houthi minister of health, as well as doctors, pharmacists, and lab technicians “from making the Yemeni people lab rats for experimentation without adherence to scientific methods and research methods in the field of medicine.”

“Are patients in Yemen becoming a field of drug testing that will be tried for the first time in Yemen and will be subject to the protocols of the Yemeni Ministry of Health?” the doctor wrote online, in a widely shared social media post. Dr. Fadl criticized Houthi officials in the health sector “for promising what they have no knowledge of, the imminent success of discovering a Yemeni invention of a cure for the COVID-19 virus.”

Dr. Fadl’s comments came in response to a controversial announcement made by the Minister of Health in the Houthi government, Taha Al-Mutawakkel, last Saturday. 

“God willing and with the capabilities of our doctors, pharmacists, and laboratory colleagues we are conducting extensive research and the corona drug will come from Yemen,” Al-Mutawwakel said. The de-facto health minister based in Sana’a spoke of “promising” research and development being conducted in areas under their control.

About a month prior to that statement, Al-Mutawakkel had earlier told members of the Sana’a-based parliament that the Houthis were attempting to develop a treatment for COVID-19.

While it remains unclear whether the de-facto authorities in Sana’a have sanctioned any research and testing in pursuit of finding a cure for the deadly virus, Dr. Fadl and several other Yemeni doctors have warned of grave consequences should the group pursue medical experimentation and testing outside of rigorous ethical standards in medicine. 

“Scientific research to produce a new drug for serious conditions caused by a new, global, and rapidly spreading virus is not as easy or simple as imagined by those who do not know how to invent medicines and when to treat human patients," Harrab said in a lengthy blog post posted on his Facebook page.


Edited by Ali Alsakani



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