[Ip-health] The Nation: The Government Created This Zika Vaccine. Why Should Big Pharma Reap the Profits?

Andrew S. Goldman andrew.goldman at keionline.org
Tue Jun 20 11:12:52 PDT 2017


The Government Created This Zika Vaccine. Why Should Big Pharma Reap the

Lawmakers are concerned that giving a drug company a monopoly on the
promising vaccine could make it unaffordable.

By Richard Eskow

TODAY 10:59 AM

It’s a familiar, if tragic, pattern: A medical breakthrough is discovered
at public expense, only to be licensed to a private corporation that earns
billions of dollars by making it unaffordable for ordinary people.

The latest such giveaway involves a vaccine for the Zika virus, which can
cause microcephaly, blindness, deafness, and calcification of the brain in
children whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. Though the new
vaccine is still being tested, it shows great promise. It was developed at
the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research, and the Department of the Army
funded its development.

Now, the Army is planning to grant exclusive rights to this potentially
groundbreaking medicine–along with as much as $173 million in funding from
the Department of Health and Human Services—to the French pharmaceutical
corporation Sanofi Pasteur. Sanofi manufactures a number of vaccines, but
it’s also faced repeated allegations of overcharges and fraud. Should the
vaccine prove effective, Sanofi would be free to charge whatever it wants
for it in the United States. Ultimately, the vaccine could end up being
unaffordable for those most vulnerable to Zika, and for cash-strapped

Andrew S. Goldman
Counsel, Policy and Legal Affairs
Knowledge Ecology International
andrew.goldman at keionline.org // www.twitter.com/ASG_KEI
tel.: +1.202.332.2670

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