Vaccines and drugs: here are doctors’ and researchers’ proposals to stop the pharmaceutical companies’ oligopoly

During the pandemic period – but also in earlier epochs and still today – the debate over vaccines, medicines and the companies that produce them has heated up. Almost all of the more or less well-founded opinions concerned the effects and legal aspects, highlighting a wide gap between opposing views, often translated into Media “football matches” that have not helped the debate at all, on the contrary, they have deprived it of almost any value.

anyway there is a key aspect that is very closely related to vaccines and pharmaceutical companies, which is almost never explored; appropriate and linked to the economic and commercial sphere: how much do they cost? Who pays them? Who are the financial burdens on? What is the regulatory framework for transactions?

ISDE, the medical association for the environment, is trying to bring attention to the issue as soon as possible and recalls that while European citizens are still grasping at Covid-19 and its variants, launching plans for the fourth dose, across the Atlantic Biden- administration – according to news reports by several media outlets, including Reuters and Wall Street Journals – signed a $ 3.2 billion contract with Pfizer for 105 million doses at $ 30 each.

The reported figures raise many doubts, as independent studies (Imperial College, London; Light and Lexchin, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine) estimate the cost of a dose of mRNA vaccine between $ 1.20 and $ 3: “This generates a gross profit of 900% for the pharmaceutical company», ISDE points out. “In Europe, on the other hand, there is an unprecedented opportunity to go in a different direction and put the right to health first.”

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Yes, for next September 28 in the European Parliament, the proposal to establish will be discussed a common public biomedical research infrastructure for autonomous development of new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and medical technologies. The activity in this reality will be oriented by health needs, supported by EU governments, open to third countries, in dialogue with civil society, able to strengthen the excellent skills found in Europe in universities, in non-profit institutions, in innovative companies , on the basis of transparent contracts and without exclusive patents.

silvio garattini
Salvio Garattini, researcher, founder of the Negri Institute and promoter of the appeal

A particularly interesting proposal that seems to be moving in the direction of genuine public health, at the service of citizens and free from the economic and commercial implications that often weigh on the activity of large multinational pharmaceutical companies. In support of the proposal, an open letter was sent to the European institutions and governments a few days agoas among the initiators and signatories sees Massimo Florio – professor of finance at the University of Milan, member of the Inequality and Diversity Forum and author of the study that will be discussed -, Fabrizio Barca – co-coordinator of the Inequality and Diversity Forum, where the idea was born – and Silvio Garattini, researcher and founder of the Negri Institute.

Also present are Giuseppe Remuzzi, Scientific Director of the Negri Institute and Professor of “Clear Fame” at the University of Milan – Vittorio Agnoletto, MD, Coordinator of NO Profits on the Pandemic Campaign, Nicoletta Dentico, Co-Founder of the Italian Observatory for Global Health -, Roberto Romizi – President of the Association of Physicians for the Environment ISDE Italy – and Giuseppe Masera, former Director of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology at the University of Milan Bicocca. And among the first signatories many other scholars and scholars, representatives of scientific associations and active citizenshipas well as former Health Ministers Rosy Bindi and Giulia Grillo.

An unprecedented opportunity opens up in Europe to go in a different direction and put the right to health first

“With an annual budget similar to that of the European Space Agency – around € 7 billion in 2022 – also inspired by the experience of CERN, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and other scientific expertise, the new topic could ‘span’ twenty years to be the world’s first center for intramural biomedical research with a broad portfolio of innovative projects in the areas that are less covered by industry ”, is the call.

The signatories call on “the European institutions and governments to consider this proposal, make it their own and develop it with a sense of urgency”. At a time when the health of millions of European citizens is still under attack from the virus, it would be unforgivable not to take the opportunity to radically change the relationship between health as a common good and oligopolistic profit of a small group of multinational pharmaceutical companies. European science and health systems can become independent by starting a joint project now.

Here the text of the appeal and signatures. To sign the complaint, you can write an email to perbiomedeuropa@gmail.com.

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