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Russian daily reported Wednesday that Russia had suspended the export of human clinical specimens over bio terrorism concerns
A Russian daily reported Wednesday that Russia had suspended the export of human clinical specimens over bio terrorism concerns. Kommersant said the move could affect dozens of patients and paralyze the Russian market for foreign clinical tests, which experts estimate is worth up to $150 million. The paper said the decision came after a report on bio terrorism submitted by the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) to the president in early May, which cites examples of major foreign medical centers using biological samples to develop genetic, "ethnically oriented" weapons. Courier services DHL and TNT Express in Russia told their clients Tuesday that the suspension, effective as of May 29, was imposed by the Federal Customs Service, the paper said, adding a government resolution to this effect was signed by First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov May 22. Experts warn that the move would above all affect patients. "If this is true, it is an artillery strike against us," Alexei Mashchan, deputy head of the Pediatric Oncohematological Center, told Kommersant. A large share of clinical trials for Russian patients have been conducted abroad, for example in Germany for bone marrow donors, the daily said. Kommersant said it was not clear whether the suspension was linked to the FSB report, as the tax service gave no details on the decision. But citing its source, the paper said Russia's largest medical institutions conducting clinical tests for pharmaceutical companies had been subjected to FSB raids in recent months. Roszdravnadzor, the country's pharmaceuticals market regulator, told Kommersant the move could be a precursor to restrictions on clinical tests in Russia, a booming market with around 28,000 volunteers, mainly patients, being engaged in programs to test new, largely foreign-made medicines. The president of Russia's Academy of Medical Sciences, Mikhail Davydov, also disapproved of the decision. "In genetic engineering, for example, joint projects with U.S. institutes are extremely attractive," he told the paper. "The analysis of biological material goes both ways: Western colleagues provide us with their specimens, and we send them samples from Russia." But Russia's chief sanitary doctor, Gennady Onishchenko, dismissed concerns. "All civilized countries regulate exports and imports of biological materials for biological security reasons," he told the daily. Kommersant said market players were considering publicly approaching authorities for explanations.
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