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: Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

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

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

11 hours ago

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

A bad buzz: Men with HIV need fewer drinks to feel effects

Apr 20, 2015

Researchers at Yale and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System compared the number of drinks that men with HIV infection, versus those without it, needed to get a buzz. They found that HIV-infected men were more sensitive to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.