The Bernie Sanders presidency never became reality due in large part to unfair treatment from the Democratic Party, but the Vermont Senator remains an influential leader.
Sanders has been known as a watchdog on behalf of organic farming and natural medicine, and recently he took one of the world’s largest drug companies to task over possible plans by the Trump administration involving the company and the controversial Zika vaccine.
Sanders Calls Out “Bad” Zika Deal
Lost in the headlines of 2017 so far was a story published in the New York Times in March 2017 quoting Sanders on President Trump’s pending Zika agreement with French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, in which he called out the administration for what he deemed a “bad deal.”
“Now his administration, through the Army, is on the brink of making a bad deal, giving French Pharmaceutical company, Sanofi, the exclusive license to patents and thus a monopoly to sell a vaccine against Zika virus,” Sanders said.
“If Mr. Trump allows this deal, Sanofi will be able to charge whatever astronomical price it wants for its vaccine. Millions of people in the United States and around the world will not be able to afford it even though American taxpayers have already spent more than $1 billion on Zika research and prevention efforts, including millions to develop this vaccine.”
The company’s CEO makes $4.5 million a year, Sanders wrote, noting that the company is far from a small start-up and should be on watch as to whether it will be allowed to price gouge consumers.
In Canada, drug prices are far more regulated; Sanders cites an example of a prostate cancer drug that was backed by grants in the U.S. and now costs $129,000 after being transferred to a pharmaceutical company. In Canada the same drug costs $30,000.
“Under this insane system, Americans pay twice,” Sanders says in the Times article, noting that Americans pay for development and then pay extra to buy the drugs themselves.
Of course there is still skepticism over whether a Zika vaccine is actually necessary or not, considering studies linking pesticide sprayings to birth defects in Brazil as an example, along with the relatively tiny number of actual Zika cases reported.
It also questionable as to whether or not the side effects will be worth the vaccine: over $3.6 billion has been paid out since 1986 in the United States due to side effects, and vaccines designed to tackle specific newly-appearing ailments are sometimes rushed to market, critics say.