Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Birdman. . . Rises!

Birdman said. . .

Wow, my own avatar; never had one of those before. I am honored albeit undeserving.

This virus/disease (ebola/EVD) is just the tip of the iceberg. With human encroachment into the formally uninhabited jungles of the world more of these formally unknown diseases will appear in increasing numbers over the next decades and centuries. A mechanism must be developed to deal with these emerging infectious diseases, as well as the intentional use of biological warfare agents by unethical individual/entities or governments.

A wonderful book by Kendall Hoyt "Long Shot" Harvard University Press 2012 captures the history and the critical need for governmental/private collaborations for vaccine development. Today, more often than not, private/public companies will not embark on vaccine/drug development unless a profit can be made.

If you have ever had to deal with a Board of Directors/investors you would quickly understand the complexities of this matter. This profit may be financial, but not always. Good luck convincing the Board that non-financial profits (good publicity) are good for the company! We often must remind the skeptical public that not all decisions in Pharma are profit driven; WE ARE WORKING TO SAVE LIVES.

The US Government has seen the writing on the wall and has formulated a number of groups to plan for the un-plan-able. This involves rapid development and deployment technologies/platforms for dealing with situations like this ebola outbreak. Many of the systems are still in their infancy, but, they are beginning to work as planned.

It is only because the US and Canadian Governments had supported the development of ebola vaccines over the past decade and because the US Government has divisions like NIAID, PHEMCE and BARDA that supplied funding to allow manufacturing and clinical trials underway in West Africa so quickly, that we are in the place we are today; on the brink of employing vaccines to curtail the outbreak. The monies supplied to NewLink/Merck are only a small portion of the investment made by the US Government to prepare for and deal with possible/actual disasters. They should be applauded for their efforts.

Thanks to the Biotech/Pharma companies and the Governmental/Non-Governmental agencies/groups for their contributions and collaboration that will help to end this ebola outbreak and ameliorate/prevent future outbreaks! These relationships must be maintained and collaborations increased. The privatization of science over the past decade has led to diminishing basic research and increasing interest in profitability through Intellectual Property. Science must be "opened up" again so we can proceed with issues that benefit society, not only investors.

OK. I'm off my soapbox. Thanks for the venue and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2014 at 4:07 AM

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