New EU Report Says Big Pharma Has Disproportionate Influence on Public Health

A new report says that the pharmaceutical companies’ influences on institutions in the European Union (EU) increased significantly during the Covid pandemic. The report said the trend impacted the health of citizens. 

A report comes from the Global Health Advocates (GHA) and StopAids, and was published on Friday last week. Global Health Advocates is a French NGO whose mission is to carry out political advocacy in France and with the EU institutions, and StopAids is a membership network with a distinguished thirty-five-year history of engagement in international development and HIV and AIDS.

“Private interests exerted an inordinate amount of influence on European decision-makers during the pandemic, resulting in a lack of transparency on publicly-funded vaccine contracts,” Rowan Dunn, EU advocacy coordinator at GHA said.

When the Covid pandemic began nearly two years ago in March 2020, the European Commission sought to provide EU countries with vaccine doses as quickly as possible.

However, the European Union quickly fell behind in its vaccination goals. This is especially true compared to the way that the United States and the United Kingdom fulfilled vaccination promises. 

This is a “very important” change in the Commission’s vaccination strategy, Belgian MEP Marc Botenga, a member of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic, said.

“Ursula von der Leyen has abandoned the idea of making vaccines a common good in favor of purchasing agreements with pharmaceutical companies,” he said. 

The report claims that the European Commission was faced with emergency status over vaccinations and the pandemic in general, and therefore gave in to certain demands from pharmaceutical laboratories, including pricing, the transparency of contracts, and intellectual property.

According to the report, the “disproportionate influence” exerted on the European Commission by ‘Big Pharma’ potentially hindered access to vaccines for people in developing countries. 

The report comes as the Food and Drug Administration is considering a major shift in the U.S. vaccine strategy.

The goal is to simplify vaccination against Covid and perhaps adopt an approach similar to what is used for the flu vaccine, with annual updates to match whatever strain of the virus is circulating. 

Currently, in the United States, people who want to be fully vaccinated against Covid have to first get their primary vaccinations. And then the vaccination is followed at least two months later by a booster, currently the bivalent shot that’s tailored to protect against omicron, a highly infectious strain. 

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