You are here: Home » Opinion » Editorial » Editorials
Business Standard

Vaccinating policy

IP regimes should not outweigh public health interests

Lockdown | Coronavirus | HIV Aids

Business Standard Editorial Comment 

The global pharmaceutical industry is racing to create a vaccine for and the winning companies are certain to generate billions of dollars in revenue and wealth for shareholders. But the bigger concern once the vaccines enter the market is balancing intellectual property (IP) regimes with public health interests. In a recent article, Joseph Stiglitz, Arjun Jayadev, and Achal Prabhala have argued that current IP regimes, which enable Big Pharma monopolies to extract large profits from consumers, are unnecessary and they make the case for the benefits of “open science” instead. They point to the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, involving experts from a laboratory network in 110 countries funded by governments and some foundations which convene twice a year to analyse the latest data on emerging flu strains, and to decide which strains should be included in each year’s vaccine. This global not-for-profit, knowledge-sharing architecture for the flu vaccines has been around for 50 years and could be a useful template in the quest for the vaccine. But much will also depend on whether domestic regimes privilege public health over pharma industry profits. Profits are hardwired into vaccines since they need to be administered almost universally (such as the triple antigen), so that monopolies and quasi-monopolies can extract billions of dollars from public health budgets. India has experienced the benefits of freely available vaccines such as those for kala azar, polio, and smallpox to eliminate these diseases.



What you get on Business Standard Premium?

  • icon Unlock 30+ premium stories daily hand-picked by our editors, across devices on browser and app.
  • icon Full access to our intuitive epaper - clip, save, share articles from any device; newspaper archives from 2006.
  • icon Curated newsletters on markets, personal finance, policy & politics, start-ups, technology, and more.
  • icon Pick your 5 favourite companies, get a daily email with all news updates on them.
  • icon 26 years of website archives.
  • icon Preferential invites to Business Standard events.


Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Mon, April 27 2020. 23:00 IST