Update 21 September 2020: Despite claims made on social media there is still no evidence that FAI has been approved, or undergoing clinical trial, or being legally used anywhere.
: 8 June 2020. Social media posts claim that the Indonesian health authorities had agreed to conduct clinical trials on Fabunan Antiviral Injection. The claims appear only from know promoters of FAI. Despite the importance of such a move, if true, it remains unconfirmed by medical news and information outlets, the WHO database of ongoing Covid-19 measures, Indonesian media, Philippine media or any reliable source. Given the track record of misinformation by FAI promoters (Such as claims that the Philippine FDA had approved FAI), we catalogue the claim as dubious.Clinical trials must be registered, yet no such trial can be found on clinical trial databases such as centerwatch.com or clinicaltrials.gov.Update: 31 May. Malacanang corrects false information regarding FAI.
Important update: 27 May: The Fabunan Medical Clinic has closed.
Update, 24 May, 2020: The Philippine FDA has issued a cease-and-desist order, DoH is ‘working up a case’ against Dr Willie Fabunan. Here for more information.
New information is emerging on the Fabunan claims which are now being verified. Updates will be made as these are checked.
Corrections of factual errors are welcome in the comments section, which is moderated.
Right now, things are little different from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which killed up.to 18 million people, according to some estimates. Many of the rumoured ‘cures’ have re-emerged in the Covid-19 crisis. You’ll find some familiar claims in this recording.
The case of the Fabunan patented jollop raises a number of red-flags suggesting that a patented mixture of painkiller and a steroid for treating Covid-19, Fabunan Antiviral Injection, is, prehaps less than is claimed for it. It is not encouraging that development was led by an accupuncturist, Willie Fabunan.
Scientists around the world are urgently seeking solutions to two challenges: How to prevent people becoming infected with Covid-19 using a vaccine, and how to cure it or mitigate its effects on someone who has caught it. Within the past week two very promising efforts have been announced.
None of these trials involve Fabunan Antiviral Injection, FAI.
First, is a vaccine developed at Oxford University, which passed animal trials with flying colours ad is now moving into human trials.
The big news is that a medicine used for treating Ebola, Remdesivir, has passed human trials and appears to shorten the period of infection in severe cases from 15 days to around 8-10 days. Importantly, the trials used placebos to determine whether th effect was caused by the medicine or not.
Remdesivir received emergency approval within the past few days and can now be deployed.
It is possible that the objective of using the political troll farm referred to in an earlier post is the use of political leverage to gain some form of political leverage to by-pass regulatory requirements. This seems unlikely since FAI approval has not been applied for.
In the third week of April 2020, following a concerted science-free social media campaign on Facebook snd Youtube, the Philippine government ordered the Food And Drug administration to look into claims that Fabunan Antiviral Injection, FAI,cured Covid-19.
Facing the effort, largely promoted by supporters of the current president, is acupuncturist Willie Fabunan from Zambales. He has yet to present scientific evidence of the safety and effectiveness of FAI, nor offered peer-reviewed studies to justify his claims.
Public records show the inventor of FAI has been involved in two companies, both now defunct: Dr Shoe Box, registered in California, a company selling shoe covers for vehicle drivers of which he was president, and Fil-Am Tech Inc., a Nevada-registered company set up in 2001 to market his patented injections to third world countries.
Other than mentions in the Philippine press regarding dengue and HIV, there are few if any reports elsewhere mentioning Fil-Am Tech, Inc.
Although it is claimed to have ‘presented’ FAI at the XIX AIDS Conference its involvement seems to have been limited to hiring booth space in the conference exhibition and handing out brochures.
In 2012, Fil-Am Tech says it was seeking partners or collaborators to carry out clinical trials. There are no public reports of any such arrangements and by the time the Nevada state authorities withdrew the company registration in late 2017, the company had failed to publish any clinical trial data in its entire existence of nearly two decades.
Fil-Am Tech is referenced in a number of Facebook posts despite no longer being registered and Ruben Fabunan has distanced himself from the Fabunan Medical Clinic. The company’s Facebook page is no longer available
The US is currently undergoing a Covid-19 crisis, FAI is patented in the US, Ruben Fabunan is a US resident. Curiously FAI is not being deployed in the US, where those making false medical claims can be prosecuted severely.
Let’s take a look at how real medicines are researched, validated, and approved.
Over the past few years, Dengue fever, and severe Dengue have become major public health issues. Its prevalence is increasing. It affects billions of people around the world, many of them in low income and developing countries and there is no cure. Once some has contracted it there is little to be done except treatment of its symptoms and providing plenty of fluids.
It is an economic burden, both at the level of the family with a person affected by Dengue, and at the national level. Not to mention the emotional stress of parents with a child threatened by Dengue.
Prevention is a preferable option, but its success depends on economic, environment and cultural factors.
In many cases of vaccine-preventable diseases there is the principle of ‘herd immunity’ – a certain percentage of the population must be immunised for the vaccine to protect the whole of the population. Measles is an example. However, because of Dengue disease vectors this is not an approach that works.
Let’s take a look at what Dengue is, what is happening in a global context.
I have thought long and hard about covering the Dengvaxia controversy in the Philippines. It is not history, although it is historic. The issue, to my mind is what scientific evidence is there to support the claims that Dengvaxia has killed Filipino children? Are the claims supportable? Does what little evidence available support the claim? What damage is the controversy doing to other vaccination programmes?
What is at stake is the lives of children. If the Philippine government’s Public attorney’s office, PAO, is correct, then there is a serious issue to be addressed, if it is wrong it is putting at risk the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of Filipino children and hazarding the lives of kids in the other 18 countries where Dengvaxia is being used.
I have spoken to clinicians, epidemiologists and public policy experts throughout the SE Asian region. I have asked PAO for its input and should it respond then its comment and clarifications will be included.