Via The Independent: Ebola outbreak: 'Big Pharma' failed victims. Why? Excerpt:
Asked why a fully tested and licensed vaccine had not been developed, Professor [Adrian] Hill said: "Well, who makes vaccines? Today, commercial vaccine supply is monopolised by four or five mega-companies – GSK, Sanofi, Merck, Pfizer – some of the biggest companies in the world.
"The problem with that is, even if you've got a way of making a vaccine, unless there's a big market, it's not worth the while of a mega-company …. There was no business case to make an Ebola vaccine for the people who needed it most: first because of the nature of the outbreak; second, the number of people likely to be affected was, until now, thought to be very small; and third, the fact that the people affected are in some of the poorest countries in the world and can't afford to pay for a new vaccine. It's a market failure."
He said that producing a vaccine for Ebola was "technically more doable" than making one for other challenging and more widespread diseases such as TB, HIV and malaria, which receive more funding.
"There's a lesson here," he said. "If we had invested in an Ebola vaccine, had it sitting there as the outbreak comes, you could have nipped it in the bud, been able to vaccinate the region where it started. What happened in Guinea was that it got out of control and spread. If you invest in having a relatively small amount of vaccine, available in the right place, as soon as anything happens, you could save huge amounts of money, not to mention lives."
In the wake of the outbreak, governments should now work with the pharmaceutical industry to push through development of vaccines against "outbreak diseases" such as Ebola, as well as Sars, Marburg and Chikungunya, Professor Hill said, with the goal of establishing stockpiles in vulnerable countries.