Julia Belluz and Vox.com have become important resources in tracking and understanding the outbreak. From her latest post: The Ebola outbreak's real cause: Letting industry drive the research agenda. Excerpt:
Ebola will continue to move through Africa—this time, and again in the future—not only because of the viral reservoirs and broken health systems specific to the continent. There are much larger issues at play here. Namely, the global institutions we designed to promote health innovation, trade, and investment perpetuate its spread and prevent its resolution.
This shouldn't be news. Most all of the money for research and development in health comes from the private sector. They naturally have a singular focus—making money—and they do that by selling patent-protected products to many people who can and are willing to pay very high monopoly prices. Not by developing medicines and vaccines for the world's poorest people, like those suffering with Ebola.
Right now, more money goes into fighting baldness and erectile dysfunction than hemorrhagic fevers like dengue or Ebola. In the graph below, you can see global pharmaceutical spending in 2013. Neglected diseases (ie., Ebola) got hardly any of the share of funding. These illnesses primarily grip people in developing countries and rely on investment from the public sector, which funds only a small fraction of total health R&D compared to industry. (In 2009, for example, $240 billion US was invested in health R&D. Of that, $214 billion went to high-income countries, and of that 60 percent came from industry, 30 percent from the public sector, and 10 percent from other sources.)
When a virus like Ebola does attract money, it's mainly from department of defense and not traditional disease research structures since Ebola is considered a potential bioterrorism weapon.
The result of this architecture of investments is that most health products that hit the market don't focus on sicknesses of the poor. Of the 850 health products approved by regulators between 2000 and 2011, only 37 focused on neglected diseases.