What is the price of health?
In the wake of Covid-19 and an unprecedented collaboration amongst research organisations and pharmaceutical companies, the entire concept of big pharma is under the microscope. Pharmaceutical companies have long been under scrutiny, with campaigners highlighting the moral ambiguity of profit-making from the discovery, development, production and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs. The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a brighter spotlight on the industry, and the race to develop vaccinations has reminded us that the pharmaceutical industry faces ethical issues distinct from other industries. There are a few powerful players controlling the supply of arguably the most critical products in an economy.
Since Covid-19 was recognised as a global threat, governments around the world have invested billions of pounds in funding vaccine development programmes. Charities and philanthropic individuals (The Gates Foundation, Jack Ma, and Dolly Parton to name a few) have also helped fund the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19.
Covid-19 vaccines have been a PR sensation for big pharma.
What does the future hold for big pharma? Booster shots will be needed to tackle new variants in years to come. Some companies may be philanthropic for the moment, but perhaps not forever.