Ebola virus: Britain’s top doctor accuses drug firms of dragging their heels in finding vaccine
Monday, August 4, 2014
Professor John Ashton said the pharmaceutical industry was being slow because it had only affected Africa and not the Western world
Britain’s top public health doctor has accused drugs firms of ’moral bankruptcy’ for dragging their heels over finding a vaccine against Ebola.
Professor John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said the pharmaceutical industry had failed to research the disease properly because so far it has only affected Africa.
And he urged the West to treat Ebola as if it was taking hold in the swankiest parts of London rather than Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
He said: “We must respond to this emergency as if it was in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster.
“We must also tackle the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research on treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don’t justify the investment.
“This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of a moral and social framework.”
The World Health Organisation says the Ebola outbreak has so far claimed the lives of at least 729 people across West Africa, although the toll is likely to rise.
Professor Ashton compared drugs firms’ response to Ebola to that of the AIDS epidemic, which killed people in Africa for years before treatments were developed once it spread to the West in the 1980s and 90s.
- Health Care