< HOME  Friday, May 05, 2006

Congress Pays ‘Big Pharma’ $1b To Bleed US Dry

Five companies won more than $1 billion in contracts to develop better influenza vaccines, and to make them largely on U.S. territory, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said on Thursday.
So, for 1 billion tax dollars (plus interest), who gets the PATENT?

THAT is the trillion dollar question. And I bet you I know the answer.
GlaxoSmithKline Plc (116 countries) was awarded $274.75 million, MedImmune Inc. (3 countries) was awarded $169.46 million, Novartis AG (140 countries) won $220.51 million, Computer Sciences Corp. (27 countries) unit DynPort Vaccine Co., working with Baxter International Inc. (30 countries), won $40.97 million and Solvay Pharmaceuticals (40 countries) won $298.59 million.
These companies need funding for research and development from US???
The companies will work to develop cell based-vaccines against seasonal influenza or a pandemic strain. The new vaccines will be grown in labs in batches of cells called cell cultures, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said.

* * *

Experts have urged the United States for years to help companies modernize influenza vaccine production. The current, 40-year-old technology is unwieldy and unreliable, and it takes months to tell how many doses will be ready in a given year.

HHS also has worried that almost all flu vaccines are made outside the United States. If countries kept vaccine supplies for their own citizens during a pandemic, vaccines might not be available for Americans.
So, instead of employing our own citizens and scientists to develop the vaccines. We fund giant transnationals so they can do it and subsequently bleed us dry for decades. Now, I get it!
Glaxo, MedImmune, Solvay and Novartis said the HHS funding would help them build or expand manufacturing capacity in the United States.

Baxter said its contract with DynPort covered production of batches of seasonal or pandemic flu vaccines at a plant in the Czech Republic. Baxter said it would provide doses of a potential pandemic vaccine to the U.S. National Institutes of Health for human testing expected to start this year.

HHS spokeswoman Christina Pearson said each contract was intended to build domestic capacity for vaccine production, even if some early work was done overseas.
Suuure! Pass me the kool-aid, please.
Last year, HHS awarded Sanofi Pasteur a $97 million contract for development of a cell-based vaccine.

Leavitt said he had not yet granted liability protection to the manufacturers but he said it was likely to happen. [!!!]

A watchdog group criticized Republican lawmakers for giving the secretary the power to grant that immunity.

Public Citizen's Congress Watch said in a report that newly obtained e-mails from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) showed the industry was heavily consulted in crafting legislation to allow for liability protection.

"The lobbyists were totally integrated with the legislative process," Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said, adding it was a "totally egregious example" of industry power over lawmakers.

BIO representatives had no immediate comment.
What's there to say? Welcome to corporate America!


At Sunday, May 07, 2006, Anonymous romunov said...

Oh cmon, it's only 1 billion. Think how much they spend on Afghanistan/Iraq/soon to be Iran on daily basis...


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