As We Now Think

Reflections, commentary and analysis from Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University.

The real Ebola dilemma

By Heather M. Ross, HSD Student

vaccine with dollar signs

Should medical research be market driven?

President Obama’s Ebola ethics dilemma is merely a headline — a critical case that illustrates a much broader problem with medical research and particularly vaccine development in the United States and worldwide. One of the choices that we have made as a nation is to pursue a market economy in nearly all sectors. One of the realities of that choice is that the market does not support the underdog — the few who lack critical resources to react to threatening environmental changes. As a result, when we rely on a market-based system to drive medical research that may not be profitable in the short term or even medium term, that system is unlikely to respond to potential future threats — no matter how high the potential cost — if there is not a reasonable promise of economic return in the end. As many scholars have noted in the past, the system is designed to yield a flood of drugs to treat high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction, but barely a trickle of vaccines for rare but deadly viruses. This Ebola case is not altogether different from the case of research for a vaccine for AIDS, documented so nicely by Jon Cohen in his 2001 book Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine.

Read full post on The Hill

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One comment on “The real Ebola dilemma

  1. Gerry Attrickseeker
    August 28, 2014

    You provide a nice summary of the need to consider alternative models for drug discovery and development.

    For example–see: Pharmaceutical Innovation and Public Policy (ASIN: B00B79ULRK)(Kindle)

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This entry was posted on August 12, 2014 by in Health Policy, Philosophy and Perspective.
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