Greed of Drug Industry Cited by World Health as Reason for Lack of Ebola Vaccine

Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Doctors transport Ebola victim Manuel Viejo, a Spanish priest (photo: Spanish Defence Ministry, AP)

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) blasted the pharmaceutical industry this week for allowing corporate greed to interfere with the timely development of an Ebola vaccine.


WHO’s Dr. Margaret Chan told those attending a conference in Benin that the drive for profits by drug makers prevented a vaccination solution from being available by now. Ebola was discovered in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1976. Because the virus was contained to poor African countries until this year, Big Pharma had little financial incentive to push the development of a vaccine, Chan said.


 “A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay,” she said, according to The New York Times. “WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see for themselves.”


Chan has called the Ebola crisis “the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.” Nearly 5,000 people have died from Ebola, according to WHO. More than 13,000 people have contracted it, nearly all of whom have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.


Testing of Ebola vaccines is underway. One was created by GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, and the other by NewLink Genetics and the Canadian government. Five other vaccines also are being worked on, with human testing on these options set to begin early next year.


Some companies working on the vaccines have seen their efforts rewarded on the stock market. One, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, has seen its share price increase 180% since July. Tekmira’s experimental treatment was used on American missionary Richard Sacra, who contracted Ebola in West Africa and was later released from a Nebraska hospital after being declared virus-free.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

WHO Assails Delay in Ebola Vaccine (by Rick Gladstone, New York Times)

Doctor: ‘There’s Not Enough PANIC and Customers to Make an Ebola Vaccine’ — Oh Really? (by Melissa Melton, Daily Sheeple)

We Have the Science to Build an Ebola Vaccine. So Why Hasn't it Happened? (by Sarah Kliff, Vox)

As Ebola Spreads, Drug Stocks Surge (by Matt Egan, CNN)

Lack of Ebola Vaccine Blamed on Budget Cuts (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Steve Foerster 9 years ago
So Curly4, you basically want to give bureaucrats at the UN the power to decide who lives and who dies? That's not not a terrible idea, it's patently insane.
Tassir 9 years ago
Jews run most of big pharma. Case closed.
Curly4 9 years ago
Then the UN should contract the research for Ebola and other disease drugs then the drug(s) would belong to the UN and it could contract someone to make the drugs. The UN then would have the ability to give, sale or withhold the drugs to anyone that they wanted. Profit would not be the motive for the research nor manufacturing of the drugs but the UN would be able to do with the drug what they wanted. If the new drug could be patented the UN could patent it and allow whom they wanted to manufacturer it.
Peter H. White 9 years ago
"Greed". Another word for the profit margin needed to fund vaccine development. Moreover, societal and corporate partnerships for funding in the development and deployment of vaccines is effective and hardly a novel idea. With the terrible job WHO has done with managing the Ebola outbreak, she should not be complaining about others. Who was in a position to support the funding a vaccine. Regards, Peter H. White
Charlie 9 years ago
The bottom line is that the FDA and the CDC need to create an agency that makes all drugs whose patents have expired. They're should make them for people on Social Security, Veterans people on disability. They should also create the vaccines for diseases like Ebola. I guess this is what so called Democracy creates lots and lots of GREED! They're should build about 6 factories around the country just for this purpose. Generics have gone through the roof before long we’ll have 10 tiers in Medicare Advantage Plans. Where most of the drugs patents expired 10 or more years ago.

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