Health

Drugmakers May Need Indemnity for Fast-Tracked Ebola Vaccines

This undated handout photo provided by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline (NIAID/GSK) shows a vaccine candidate, in a vial, that will be used in the upcoming  human Ebola trials. Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline. It will test 20 healthy adult volunteers to see if the virus is safe and triggers an adequate response in their immune systems. (AP Photo/NIAID/GSK)
This undated handout photo provided by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline (NIAID/GSK) shows a vaccine candidate, in a vial, that will be used in the upcoming human Ebola trials. Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline. It will test 20 healthy adult volunteers to see if the virus is safe and triggers an adequate response in their immune systems. (AP Photo/NIAID/GSK)

 

(Reuters) – Drugmakers are looking for some kind of indemnity from governments or multilateral agencies against possible losses or claims arising from the widespread emergency use of new Ebola vaccines in Africa.

While the issue will not delay the industry’s work to accelerate production and clinical testing of three experimental vaccines, it is likely to be discussed at a high-level meeting in Geneva on Thursday.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan will chair the meeting, which includes industry executives, representatives from countries including those affected by Ebola, drug regulators and funders.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) Chief Executive Andrew Witty said a system of indemnity made sense given the unique situation in which companies are being urged by the WHO to fast-track the supply of novel vaccines in a matter of months rather than years.

There is currently no proven vaccine against Ebola and drug companies have been wary in the past of investing in the area, since the commercial opportunity is small. Potential losses or claims arising from the use of new vaccines would represent an additional hurdle.

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