Pharmaceutical Sector Current Affairs

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New Ebola vaccine may be up to 100% effective: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed confidence that a prototype vaccine for Ebola called rVSV-ZEBOV may be 100% effective in protecting against the deadly virus.

The vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Key Facts
  • Earlier in a major experimental human clinical trial of this vaccine conducted on nearly 6,000 people in Guinea in 2015 was found to successfully.
  • It was observed that no one from the 6,000 people contracted again to the lethal disease. The test results of the trial were released in The Lancet magazine.
  • This new vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority. But it is said that the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process.
  • However, this new vaccine has some flaws as it appears to work against only one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus.
  • Thus, it may not give long-lasting protection and some of patients who were given this vaccine have reported side effects like joint pain and headaches.

About Ebola virus

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name. It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. Symptoms faced by people who have contracted the Ebola virus include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the deadly outbreak of the virus in the history that had killed 11,000 people.

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Delink drug prices from R&D costs: UN

The United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines has called for delinking drug prices from research and development (R&D) costs.

The report submitted by panel calls for human rights to be placed over intellectual property laws of pharmaceutical companies and incoherence between them should be narrowed.

Key Recommendations

  • All countries must freely be able to use flexibilities granted under TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) to access affordable medicines.
  • Countries that retaliate and threaten against generic drugs makers in different countries under the TRIPS Agreement must be forced to face significant sanctions.
  • Public health assessments must be done with every free trade negotiation to assess the possible impact on public health and creation of public health patentability criteria.
  • Governments engaged in bilateral and regional trade and investment treaties should ensure that these agreements do not include provisions that interfere with their obligations to fulfil the right to health.
  • Research institutions and universities that receive public funding must prioritize public health objectives over financial returns in their patenting and licensing practices.
  • Governments should increase their current levels of investments to in heath technology innovation to address unmet needs.

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