“The efforts of the global scientific community have been for the last few months concentrated foremost on searching for an efficient vaccine and medicine for COVID-19 which is taking its toll all over the world. However, despite the race against time being ruthless, this must not be a reason for the stakeholders to bypass the valid quality and ethical standards while conducting research, because there are no shortcuts in science,” Matjaž Tuš, MSc, the President of the Slovenian Pharmaceutical Society, emphasized in our discussion.

We are witnessing the most intense scientific race of the modern time. Under the sponsorship of the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Parliament, there are 18 research studies taking place, and in order for a solution against the new coronavirus to be brought into life in their laboratories, the American and numerous other governments have supported the domestic pharmaceutical industry with capital injections, worth several hundred million Euros.

The President of the Slovenian Pharmaceutical Society, Matjaž Tuš, MSc, emphasized that for a development of a safe and efficient vaccine and medicine, it is necessary to respect the same quality and ethical standards which were for such research studies in place before the pandemic:

Considering the fact that there are so many people and stakeholders included in the search for a solution, I expect that we will have one in imminent future. However, this is still completely unpredictable because very strict conditions and criteria which we cannot bypass must be fulfilled. This is also why we must not put pressure on all these stakeholders to look for shortcuts in places where they are not supposed to.

The Awareness About the Importance of Science Is Not Enough

The awareness about the importance of scientific research is undoubtedly growing, especially now when the whole world is hoping for as quick development of active substances with which we could control COVID-19 as possible. However, in the opinion of the President of the Slovenian Pharmaceutical Society, this is not enough:

“This situation with the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly significantly raise the awareness of the importance of research. But only this awareness will not necessarily be enough for things to move forward when creating better conditions for the researchers to have an easier path towards their discoveries. I would like that we do not forget about the fundamental basic research. We are very easily aware of the importance of applicative research which later on materializes into a product or service, but we can quickly forget about basic research which set the foundations for applicative studies. When we talk about support and awareness, we therefore need to balance it out and give support to both basic and applicative studies.”

Support and Collaboration Are the Things that Count  

Until 28 September 2020, researchers in medicine and pharmacy from the Central and Eastern Europe can with their research achievements in nine therapeutic fields for already the seventh year compete in an international contest for outstanding research achievements, the International Medis Awards. Not only encouragement, but also the award and the promotion of research efforts, last year attracted as many as 207 research works from the region.

“In the Slovenian Pharmaceutical Society we very much appreciate the efforts, such as the efforts of the Medis company with its International Medis Awards, because this all contributes to connecting and promoting science and the good things in our expert field and in our wider environment. Considering the fact that already for 70 years, we at the Slovenian Pharmaceutical Society have been doing our best, collaborating and connecting colleagues not only within Slovenia, but also wider across the region and globally, I deem this of extraordinary importance. If you knock on the door and on the other side there is someone with whom you have collaborated in the past and you have proven yourself as a reliable, trustworthy and good partner, then this door probably opens faster than it otherwise would. This collaboration, participation and relationships between researchers, which with time develop also on a personal level, are extremely important for the collaborations in this formalized form to proceed faster and more easily.”

Matjaž Tuš, MSc, believes that because of the pandemic, the situation was not particularly favourable for research works of clinicians in pharmacy and medicine, yet he remains optimistic:

Numerous clinicians come from environments where they participate in work with patients every day, either in pharmacies on a primary level, in hospital pharmacies or in ordinations in clinical environment. Considering the fact that healthcare professionals were especially burdened this year due to these difficult conditions, I am afraid that there was a little less time and will for research. But I believe that when this situation improves, the research spirit and the wish to contribute and develop science, so that the achievements can also be transferred to expert fields and thus help the patients, will be even greater.