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Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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Big Pharma’s delay of tuberculosis vaccine kills millions

Oct 11, 2023

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The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the world, and according to the World Health Organization, it killed at least three million people in 2020 alone. But shortly after scientists designed a vaccine for COVID-19, tuberculosis (TB) reclaimed its top spot as the deadliest infectious disease in the world today.

Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence argues that big pharmaceutical companies have delayed the fight against TB, permitting millions of people to die around the world in the pursuit of higher profits. To begin to remedy this, she advises governments around the world to cooperate in capping corporate pharmaceutical profits.

Tuberculosis remains the world’s oldest and deadliest pandemic, killing at least 1.6 million people each year. According to the investigative reporters at ProPublica, it’s been five years since GSK was on the cusp of bringing a full-fledged vaccine to life, to save lives that could be lost. Instead of pushing forward, the Big Pharma pulled back on its global public health work to lean into a more lucrative market of curbing viral infections that primarily impact those in the United States.

See, because when it comes to tuberculosis, those suffering most don’t have big-name health insurance providers behind them, or government-subsidized health care. They’re the migrants, the malnourished, and the forgotten in developed countries. Mind you, these are nations that the West and colonizers have raped and pillaged for resources and labor, leaving behind souls basically struggling to survive.

Because those destabilized nations don’t have a wealth of resources to spend on vaccines, their people are left behind, and these pharmaceutical companies are able to maintain that there is no market for such vaccines.

With COVID 19 infections ramping up, it’s somewhat comforting to know that vaccines for the virus are being updated and released to the public. Now that makes me wish such preventative measures were also invested in attacking what we know to be the world’s deadliest infectious disease. But they’re not. And it’s not because the journey to such a vaccine isn’t possible. But it seems it’s because the road to the bank isn’t big enough. According to a report GSK a pharmaceutical giant pulled a potentially life saving tuberculosis vaccine, because it wasn’t profitable enough, even though the vaccine could save millions of lives. Because big pharma prefers to be a legend at the bank rather than a paragon of philanthropy. Governments must unite to collectively cap big farmers financial recovery on a global level. Now, this proposal may be offensive to free market folks and sound Neo socialist, but it’s better to be a socialist and alive than a capitalist and extinct. The situation with the TB vaccine bolsters this point, tuberculosis remains the world’s oldest and deadliest pandemic killing at least 1.6 million people each year. According to the investigative reporters at ProPublica. It’s been five years since GSK, was on the cusp of bringing a full fledged vaccine to life to save lives that could be lost. Instead of pushing forward, the big pharma pulled back on its global public health work to lean into a more lucrative market of curbing viral infections that primarily impact those in the United States. See, because when it comes to tuberculosis, those suffering most don’t have big name health insurance providers behind them, or government subsidized health care. They’re the migrants, the malnourished and the forgotten in developed countries. Mind you, these are nations that the West End colonizers have raped and pillaged for resources and labor, leaving behind souls basically struggling to survive. Because those destabilized nations don’t have a wealth of resources to spend on vaccines. Their people are left behind and these pharmaceutical companies are able to maintain that there is no market for such vaccines.

 

While I get that for profit companies are in the money making business. I also understand that life saving measures should not be a business, but they are due to capitalism. In pursuit of developing vaccines, governments are practically forced to partner with Big Pharma passing them taxpayer funds in hopes of them finding immunizations. But when those efforts are fruitful, it’s the companies that control supply and sales profiting at every turn. This ill fated consequence of capitalism is as disturbing as it is disgusting, and it will be mankind’s downfall will continue to lose millions upon millions of lives because people can’t afford medication to stay alive. And that reality hits home here in the United States. Now, a 2019 Gallup poll found that as many as 25% of the US population delays getting medical help because of skyrocketing costs, due to the pandemic 9 million lost their insurance due to unemployment. And the research finds that roughly one out of every three COVID-19 death was tied to health insurance gaps. The US spends the most on health care of any developed nation, yet covers fewer people and achieves worse overall health outcomes. It’s the rising costs. It’s capitalism and it’s killing us. For the sake of the future of mankind. It’s long past time to put a cap on Big Pharma profits.

 

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