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