Big Pharma’s race to develop an Ebola vaccine

October 24, 2014

The news last night that a New York City physician, Craig Spencer, tested positive for Ebola brought a whole new wave of freakout about the deadly virus.  How breathless is the coverage?  Joe Coscarelli puts it in perspective in “The Most Ignorant American Ebola Panic of the Moment.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization made real news this week as it announced large-scale clinical trials, due to start in January, 2015, in the rush to vaccinate against the further spread of Ebola in West Africa.

Not surprisingly, Bavarian Nordic and NewLink Genetics, the two biggest gainers in this Reuters graphic of 13 biotech companies with experimental Ebola drugs and vaccines, both saw stock prices surge in recent weeks.

Are these companies just profiting off misery? As The New York Times pointed out yesterday, testing and scaling up the production of drugs takes real money, and bringing a new vaccine to market can cost as much as $1.5 billion.

This often pays off for Big Pharma, as patented, brand-name drugs can be worth worth billions, For diseases like Ebola, though, it can take a humanitarian disaster to create the necessary urgency to act.

Sure we can be cynical. But to view the success of stocks like Bavarian Nordic and NewLink Genetics as the profits of doom is to ignore the economic realities that go into discovering and administering a real-world cure.



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I cannot thank you enough for the blog article.Thanks Again. Cool.

Posted by Hung Butterfield | Report as abusive