The US Army is proceeding with plans to grant Sanofi Pasteur an exclusive license to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, despite concerns among some lawmakers and advocacy groups that the product may be priced too high for many Americans, even though it was developed with taxpayer funds.
In explaining its decision, an Army official wrote in a recent letter to one of the advocacy groups that the Army “lacks the means, expertise, and authority to define, implement, and enforce ‘affordable prices’ or to set price controls for a potential vaccine that will require great investment and face high risk of failure.” Citing confidentiality, the official declined to reveal specifics of the deal.
The rebuff comes after the military last December revealed plans to award the drug maker a license to a pair of government patents. That followed months of mounting alarm among public health officials over the spread of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects. At the same time, there has been speculation that the market for such a vaccine could become lucrative.