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Big Pharma Bets on Bucks to Be Made on Ebola Vaccine

Drugmakers are racing to develop vaccines and drugs to address the worst outbreak of Ebola in history, betting that governments will pay up.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

Drugmakers are racing to develop vaccines and drugs to address the worst outbreak of Ebola in history. It's unclear who will pay for their products, but companies are betting that governments and aid groups will foot the bill. Governments and corporations now are shifting millions of dollars to fight Ebola. Experts say drugmakers are wagering that international groups and wealthier governments like the U.S. will buy Ebola vaccines and drugs in mass quantities to stockpile them for future use once they're deemed safe. While there are no reliable estimates of the potential market size for an Ebola drug or vaccine, some drugmakers have already seen their stocks rise on the potential of the therapies in their pipelines.

  • Johnson & Johnson said last week it will begin safety testing in early January of a vaccine combination that could protect against an Ebola strain that is "highly similar" to the virus that triggered the current outbreak.
  • Human trials of a vaccine co-developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline are being funded by the company, its charitable trust and funds from the U.S. and U.K. governments. It is being tested for safety in the U.S., U.K., and Mali.
  • A small U.S. drugmaker, NewLink Genetics, holds the license on one front-runner vaccine, which was initially developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and has been sent to the U.S. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland for testing on healthy volunteers, with preliminary safety results expected by December.


-- The Associated Press