Economist argues that public-private partnerships are a must in creating an HIV vaccine

Nov 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- MIT economist Jeffrey Harris argues that while the scientific obstacles to creating an HIV vaccine are great, the lack of commercial incentive poses a major problem.

In his paper, “Why We Don't Have an , and How We Can Develop One,” published in the November/December issue of the journal Health Affairs, Harris writes that “the recent history of attempts to develop an HIV vaccine represents a textbook case in the economics of inadequate private incentives.”

Given the recent high-profile failures of several clinical trials of vaccines against HIV, many scientists have all but given up hope of producing a human-ready vaccine. Harris writes, “the groundwork will be laid for a major scientific breakthrough in vaccine development only when there are new contractual structures that enhance private incentives for vaccine development; when we have clearly specified the rights to the profitable North American market; when we have established a system of liability protection for vaccine side effects; and when our clinical trials also test the behavioral consequences of vaccination.”

Development of an is an extraordinarily risky enterprise for a private commercial firm. Demand for the vaccine will depend on volatile decisions by governments to implement large-scale vaccination programs. International political pressures may prevent a successful vaccine developer from charging enough to recoup its investment and manufacturing costs, especially if some countries compel the developer to license the vaccine below cost to a generic manufacturer. What's more, adverse publicity about side effects could damage sales and result in product liability suits. While the scientific community has learned a lot from the many failed human vaccine trials, the manufacturers of these candidate vaccines have so far been unable to convert any of these incremental advances in knowledge into private gains. There has been much talk about the need for sharing of preliminary data, biological samples, and laboratory techniques. From the economist’s standpoint, what is most essential is a mechanism for sharing risk.

Harris argues that “new public-private contractual structures” will reduce economic risks for potential vaccine developers. These public-private partnerships include rewarding firms for intermediate developments rather than all-or-none-payment for vaccine delivery; providing antiretroviral manufacturers with stronger incentives to participate in joint ventures involving containment vaccines; and establishing a system of liability protection now rather than later. Harris writes that in order to proceed more rapidly with human testing, new institutional arrangements must be made between manufacturing countries and testing countries, where HIV incidence is highest. “Instituting these changes will be every bit as important for HIV as getting the science right.”

Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news : web)

Explore further: Condoms 'too small' for Uganda men

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Experimental aids vaccine now in production

Nov 12, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The advance towards a vaccine for HIV/AIDS has taken another step closer to realization. A vaccine, developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University ...

NIAID creates HIV vaccine discovery branch

Jun 25, 2008

To accelerate the translation of basic discoveries about HIV into advances in vaccine design and evaluation, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ...

How HIV vaccine might have increased odds of infection

Nov 03, 2008

In September 2007, a phase II HIV-1 vaccine trial was abruptly halted when researchers found that the vaccine may have promoted, rather than prevented, HIV infection. A new study by a team of researchers at the Montpellier ...

AIDS vaccine trial exceeds expectations

Sep 23, 2005

An experimental AIDS vaccine of Merck & Co. has exceeded expectations and led to a double enrollment in the trial to 3,000, researchers said.

AIDS experts go back to basics

Mar 27, 2008

The head of the U.S. agency in charge of AIDS research says scientists need to go back to basics to find a vaccine against the HIV virus.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0