Pharmaceutical companies in current pandemic have been criticized. Looking for an equitable solution
A report published in The Lancet (August 5, 2021) makes an evaluation of the performance of pharmaceutical companies, their relevance and the ethical principles that should prevail to redefine global institutional commitments.
We make a synthesis of the study, which highlights the importance of timely and proper vaccination of the world population to stop the pandemic.
We emphasize that “WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance have established COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) to procure and fairly distribute vaccines.”
Pharmaceutical companies in current pandemic
For their part, “pharmaceutical companies have been criticized for knowledge hoarding, secret pricing, unreasonable profits, unfair bilateral deals, and extortionate demands for indemnification against liability.”
The authors state that “all parties involved in researching, developing, manufacturing, and distributing COVID-19 vaccines need guidance on their ethical obligations.” But the study focuses “on pharmaceutical companies’ obligations because their capacities to research, develop, manufacture, and distribute vaccines make them uniquely placed for stemming the pandemic.”
The report points out “four uncontroversial governing principles that they must follow:
- Optimizing vaccine production, including development, testing, and manufacturing;
- Fair distribution;”
- Sustainability that “requires a long-term perspective to ensure that emergency responses that are appealing in the short term do not unacceptably imperil the future development of and access to affordable and socially valuable vaccines and therapies;”
- Transparency in the different commitments and their fulfillment in a timely manner “empowers the public to demand justification for decisions made, actively monitor their implementation, and exert pressure on decision-makers to fulfill their ethical obligations;”
The article concludes that a regulatory entity is necessary to unify, monitor and eventually sanction the production and distribution of vaccines by pharmaceutical companies under the four principles indicated above. In this way, equitable distribution to the world population would be guaranteed, and situations such as those generated in the current pandemic would be avoided.
From a bioethical perspective, both the proposed incontrovertible principles and their implementation through an independent regulatory body could avoid the current organization’s problems of transparency and equitable distribution.