Don’t let big pharma profiteer from coronavirus

| 18th March 2020
Trump and Johnson
Flickr
Global Justice Now launch petition urging UK government to ensure that public health is prioritised over private wealth when a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.

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As coronavirus disrupts the world, the stock prices of some big pharmaceutical corporations are booming. We need a vaccine for this virus to be developed as quickly as possible and public money is pouring in to make that possible.

The UK government alone has already committed £40 million to researching a COVID-19 vaccine but we cannot allow big pharma to profiteer from the public investment that is being committed to the development of a vaccine.

Will you sign a petition to the UK government and urge them to ensure that public health is prioritised over private wealth when a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed? 

Our pharmaceutical sector is not fit for purpose under normal circumstances, let alone during a global health crisis. 

Treatment

Because of trade rules, built up over decades, many corporations base their business model on profiteering from patents that guarantee them a monopoly for at least 20 years, charging astronomical prices for their products, keeping their research secret, and failing to research the diseases which are killing most people in developing countries.

Public money plays a major role in funding  pharmaceutical research to produce treatments which big pharma fails to develop on its own.

But because we don’t apply conditions to that research, too often big corporations profit from that public research – effectively shutting out anyone who can’t afford their prices, and putting immense strain on public health systems like the NHS.

And it gets worse. The German media reported that Donald Trump was trying to offer large sums of money for exclusive access to one vaccine under development ‘for the US only’. That’s the sort of obscene spectacle which our exclusive big pharma system promotes. 

We cannot follow in Trump’s footsteps. The UK government must act with a global vision. Take action to urge the UK government to ensure that any treatment for COVID-19 reaches those that need it most everywhere. 

Research

We’ve got to change this system.

We urgently need: collaborative research, so scientists can build on each other’s work and develop treatments which are available to everyone in the world who needs them. 

As a first step, we must demand the UK government puts strict conditions on public funding for COVID-19 vaccine research, ensuring that research is transparent and that with any vaccine breakthrough there are no monopolies when it comes to producing the treatment. 

We also need global collaboration based on international solidarity to ensure that any COVID-19 vaccine is distributed based on public health need and not just hoarded by the richest countries.

Sign our petition to demand that public funding for a COVID-19 vaccine should lead to fair and affordable access. 

This Author 

Nick Dearden is the director of Global Justice Now. This article is taken from a mailout from Global Justice Now. 

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