Our Monkey Cousins Join the Pox Wars

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I want to cheer the news, that U.S. military brings scientists closer to Ebola cure.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and a private firm, AVI BioPharma, published the results of studies that show that their treatment does have a helpful effect in monkeys. That’s a huge leap, particularly since the researchers were given clearance to start limited human testing. The partnership won a Defense Department grant of up to $291 million last month for that phase.

I want to cheer the news, that U.S. military brings scientists closer to Ebola cure.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and a private firm, AVI BioPharma, published the results of studies that show that their treatment does have a helpful effect in monkeys. That’s a huge leap, particularly since the researchers were given clearance to start limited human testing. The partnership won a Defense Department grant of up to $291 million last month for that phase.

So, there’s me giving praise where praise might be due. And, here’s me offering what Andrew Calamia explains as “a ray of success in researchers’ quest to fight the deadly viruses Ebola and Marburg.”.

But then, Armchair Generalist reminds me no press release comes without a disappointment. I hesitate to be cynical, that this announcement is just a glitzy cover story inserted somewhere else in the news cycle to promote “…how the department intended to invest $2 billion to improve how the government and private industry developed medical countermeasures for pandemic flu outbreaks.”

Honestly, do we need all this melodrama to justify spending $2 billion on improving how the US government obtains medical countermeasures for public health emergencies? Obviously, we do. We must have no expertise or policy analysts who can calmly and accurately review the past century of how the federal government responds to natural disease outbreaks or the relatively few bioterrorist incidents.

(…)

In general, I’m not against this proposal. It makes sense for the US government to invest in a vaccine facility and to improve FDA regulatory processes as long as the general public expects the government to protect it from natural-occuring endemic diseases. Big Pharma doesn’t want to play, and working with foreign producers is difficult and time-consuming. But we really don’t need to hype the message with the “gloom and doom” terrorist aspect. Saving some of the thousands of Americans who die every year from the flu ought to be enough reason. And it should be noted that none of this effort will directly result in any new medical countermeasures for CBRN terrorism.

I just hope those monkeys didn’t suffer in vain.

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Filed under: Business/Economy, Military, Science, USA Tagged: barda, big pharma, ebola, kathleen sibelius, marburg, project bioshield



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