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Despite need to develop vaccines, pandemics not a priority for drugmakers

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Drugmakers have made significant scientific advances in recent years. Unfortunately, their ability to combat potential pandemics isn’t included among them.

Driven in part by high prices and an easier path to profit, pharmaceutical companies have increasingly focused on medicines targeting cancer and rare diseases, and they are often amply rewarded by investors for doing so. That has helped lead to important new drugs and a notable drop in cancer deaths. But, as I have noted, those efforts can come at the expense of vital but less lucrative work in the service of public health.

The recent outbreak of a deadly respiratory illness in China has reminded the world of the threat of new diseases and their potential for spreading globally. As part of efforts to contain the virus, China this week halted travel out of Wuhan and neighboring municipalities, while the World Health Organization said it will decide Thursday on whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern as the death toll climbed. The current crisis may abate, but the threat of pandemics won’t. It’s past time to take steps to make sure that the world has the scientific and medical firepower it will need — and large drugmakers could play a........

© The Japan Times