Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials About Tramont’s Comments on HIV Vaccine Development
Two recent editorials react to comments by Edmund Tramont, director of the Division of AIDS at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, who in July 2005 during a deposition, said pharmaceutical companies likely will wait for the government to develop an effective HIV vaccine because of a lack of financial incentive to develop a vaccine in the private sector. In the deposition regarding an employment lawsuit filed by former NIH employee Jonathan Fishbein, which was obtained recently by the Associated Press, Tramont said, "[W]e're going to have an HIV vaccine," adding, "It's not going to be made by a company. They're dropping out like flies because there's no real incentive for them to do it." Therefore, he added, government agencies must spend more "time and energy" developing new treatments for market. If the government develops an effective vaccine, pharmaceutical companies will then "make it and sell it and make a profit" without having "to make that big investment," Tramont said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). The editorials are summarized below.
Akron Beacon Journal: If Tramont's "blunt appraisal" has "offended" the pharmaceutical industry, it is because the industry "muddied their image" regarding the HIV/AIDS pandemic by "resist[ing] for years efforts to make cheaper versions of powerful drugs available to poor countries," a Beacon Journal editorial says. There is "high promise" for an effective HIV vaccine to be developed, but "it will take the combined resources of the public and private sectors, the vast network of research institutions supported by governments, international organizations and foundations in close alliance with the production and distribution capacities of private companies," the editorial concludes (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/2).
South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Although Tramont likely "wasn't looking to sound any alarms" with his statements about HIV vaccine development, his assessment is "troubling" and should "send a wakeup call" to NIH, a Sun-Sentinel editorial says. The U.S. government must increase funding for vaccine research, the editorial says, adding that the best way to spend the money would be "through incentives that foster private research that may more efficiently, and perhaps more quickly, solve one of the worst plagues of modern times" (South Florida Sun Sentinel, 12/30/05).