Kudos to John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health. Recently he described the "scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research to produce treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don't justify the investments. This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of an ethical and social framework," he concluded (Leigh Phillips, "The Political Economy of Ebola," Jacobin Magazine).
Ebola is a problem that is not being solved because there is almost no money to be made by the big pharmaceutical companies in solving it. It is an unprofitable disease.
This situation is not just unique for Ebola. For 30 years, the large pharmaceutical companies have refused to engage in research into new classes of antibiotics. Clinicians expect that within 20 years we will completely run out of effective drugs for routine infections, observed science writer Leigh Phillips (see above source) whose writings have appeared in Scientific American among other publications.
The reason is straightforward. The companies themselves admit their reluctance to invest in a product that people will use only a handful of times in their life compared to investing the same amount on the development of highly profitable drugs for chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer that patients have to take every day, often for the rest of their lives, Phillips noted.
When people are considered more important than big business profits, good things can happen. Perhaps this explains "Cuba's Inspiring Role in Ebola," the excellent title of a recent New York Times editorial lauding Cuba's response to the Ebola crisis.
Public control of big pharma is long overdue.