Thursday, October 13, 2016

No such thing as "free" vaccines: the implication of pharmaceutical company vaccine donations

This week the director of the Doctors Without Borders (DWB) Executive Director, Jason Cone, penned an open letter to that explained why DWB rejected a donation of pneumonia vaccine from the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer. 

It is easy to rationalize receiving the donation, as there are many children who need the vaccine, and he states that it is "claim[ing] the lives of nearly one million kids each year, making it the world's deadliest disease among children." However, he also brings into consideration the larger organizational, systemic structures that are impacted when the implications of how accepting the vaccines would impact other issues.

One of the issues he discussed in his open letter, was the issue of negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies. In which he discussed the restrictions and guidelines provided, whenever a donation was made. Cone says, 

"By giving the pneumonia vaccine away for free, pharmaceutical corporations can use this as a justification for why prices remain high for others, including other humanitarian organization and developing countries that also can't afford the vaccine."

By touching upon issues of market management, and the impact that NGOs can have, Cone advocates for lower prices for vaccines for a more equitable health care access world, especially with vaccines that have such a large potential to  save so many lives. 


- Gianna Nino-Tapias ('18)

No comments: