In this new episode, after a long summer break we dive into the topic that is unfortunately still on everyone’s mind each and every day: the raging pandemic. Our main question: when will there be a vaccine? The second question: who controls the development of those vaccines? And who protects the general interest or public health against the problematic, profit-maximising business-models rampant in Big Pharma? Three experts (Olivier Hoedeman, Yannis Natsis and Ellen ‘t Hoen) provide the answers and warn European policymakers that more transparency is the best antidote for spreading conspiracy theories and anti-vax movements.

First Olivier Hoedeman, researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), talks about the recent research ('Power and profit during a pandemic: Why the pharmaceutical industry needs more scrutiny not less'), which revealed how the pharma industry is actively lobbying the European Commission and is putting profit before an effective pandemic response. Big Pharma’s business model is partly based on huge amounts of public R&D money with no strings attached and excessive monopoly patent rules. Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, lobbied against the joint procurement of treatments in Europe, a tool intended to prevent excessive prices. Pharma industry lobbyists also pushed arguments based on fear and scarcity to win lucrative advance purchase agreements (APAs) for potential new vaccines.

Our second expert, Yannis Natsis from the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), explains why in many ways more transparency is vital for an EU-policy on vaccines and access to medicine in general. As a member of the board of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) he is one of the rare independent experts that follow the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Big Pharma from the first row.

Our third guest is renowned Dutch international juridical expert, Ellen ’t Hoen, who specialised in medicine policy. She explains how Big Pharma has been abusing the ‘Orphan medicines regulation’, which the EU adopted exactly twenty years ago, This legislation was meant to make the development of ‘orphan medicines’ for the treatment of very rare diseases more attractive. But pharmaceutical companies lobbied these regulations and subsequently benefitted for billions of euro of the ‘market exclusivity’, giving them a ten years monopoly. ’t Hoen also makes the case for a review of the EU-regulation and thus for more transparency.

Who we are

Both CEO and Counter Balance raise awareness on the importance of good governance in the European Union, by researching issues like lobbying of large and powerful industries, corporate capture of decision making, corruption, fraud, human rights violations in areas like agro-business, biotech & chemical companies, the financial sector & public investment banks, trade, energy & climate, scientific research and much more…

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