Pharma Just Ripped Off Pro-Vaccine Advocates In India

Photo by CDC Global Health

When it comes to pro-vaccine organizations, it seems sometimes they eat their own. As is the case with India and the pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13, who pro-vaccine proponents want to disseminate on a mass level to Indian communities. But a less than philanthropic pharmaceutical company has their own interest as a priority, which has angered activists.

According to Reuters, India has granted Pfizer, the maker of Prevnar 13, a patent on their pneumonia vaccine. And health groups are none too thrilled with a decision they claim will make the vaccine much harder to obtain. And they are correct in their rhetoric.

India’s patent laws will prohibit any pharmaceutical company from creating cheaper versions of the vaccine. And this is a huge win for Pfizer. India leads the world in pneumonia deaths, that market could be worth billions, particularly if Pfizer doesn’t have to compete in terms of pricing. And then there is the fact that India supplies even poorer nations with vaccines and drugs. It’s a far reaching decision and one sure to come under further condemnation. The market cost of the vaccine is $170.

So it would seem that “health advocates” are being blindsided by the very company who they thought to be their pal, only to learn that pharmaceutical companies do what pharmaceutical companies need to do in order to be incredibly rich.

According to the Reuters article.

India started giving out the vaccine for free under its national immunization program in March, but the rollout is restricted, so only about 2.1 million of the 25 million eligible people in the country will get it this year. A government statement earlier this year did not give reasons for the phased rollout.

“Manufacturers will have to find new routes to develop a non-infringing (pneumonia) vaccine, which may delay the availability of competing products in the pipeline from Indian producers,” the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement. (

We all learn at some point, I suppose.

MSF filed an objection to Pfizer’s patent request last year on the grounds that a patent would deprive many developing nations of cheaper copies.

Pfizer has previously been condemned for ultra-high pricing of the vaccine.

So what do you think?

Photo by CDC Global Health

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