Accepted Paper:

Global vaccine science moving from public to private ownership  

Author:

Janice Graham (Dalhousie University)

Paper short abstract:

While scientists and health officials call for radical shifts in vaccine innovation, the business model of industrial vaccine science has taken hold. This paper follows an Ebola vaccine moving from a national publicly funded lab, through its licensing to a small biotechnology firm and Big Pharma.

Paper long abstract:

Endorsed by all 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization is now more than mid-way through the Global Vaccine Action Plan to achieve universal access to immunization by 2020. Emerging, neglected and vaccine preventable diseases continue to challenge national, NGO and multilateral efforts to detect, monitor, control and eradicate them across low, middle and high income countries. While public health officials turn to the term "vaccine hesitancy" to explain the reasons and concerns surrounding the loss of public confidence in immunization among some individuals and communities, few have systematically analysed the global industrial vaccine research and development assemblage for clues into scientific and public-private health practices which may be changing the game. The number of vaccines recommended for routine immunization programmes have expanded over the past generation while development, manufacturing, affordability, access and effectiveness must be traded-off in multilateral corporate shell games using technical and political decision-making frameworks dependent often on limited data. At a time when the merging of open-market sources of pharmaceuticals and biologics has allowed the costs of existing health products to skyrocket, few paid attention to the selling of one of the world's last public vaccine facilities. While public scientists and health officials are calling for radical shifts in vaccine innovation science, the business model of industrial vaccine science has taken a firm hold. This paper follows an Ebola vaccine as it moves from a national publicly funded laboratory, through its licensing to a small biotechnology firm and Big Pharma.

Panel MB-MT07
Movement of medical knowledge & practice: crossing borders and constructing boundaries in a global world