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GSK: We had a social responsibility to work on Ebola

And company says it delayed more commercialprojects to do so

Ebola West Africa
Ebola outbreak in West Africa (WHO | Stephane Saporito)

GlaxoSmithKline, whose work on an Ebola vaccine continues apace, says it had a responsibility to target the disease, even though doing so came at a commercial cost.

Dr Emmanuel Hanon, head of vaccine discovery and development at GSK, told PMLiVE that resources had to be diverted from other projects to its Ebola work, but that that was the right thing to do.

“There was a notion of duty to respond as one of the leading vaccine companies and use some of our resources to respond to this kind of emerging threat.

“The time of the pharmaceutical company that is only interested in the benefits [to itself] has passed - we have a social responsibility,” he said at the One Health Congress in Amsterdam earlier this week.

His comments come in the wake of a difficult few years for GSK, as it weathers a corruption scandal in China that has so far seen it fined $487m and layoff staff deemed to have contravened its governance and compliance procedures.

In contrast the firm's work on Ebola has a clear responsibility narrative, with it - along with J&J and Merck & Co - among the leading companies working on a vaccine for the disease.

Dr Hanon said: “There is a case where you can create a win-win scenario, where you can, on the one hand, continue to deliver on classical targets, but from time to time you can take the responsibility to stand up and try to come with a solution.”

In November last year the first data from a phase I trial of the company's ChAd3-EBO vaccine suggested it was safe and stimulated an immune response and in January GSK shipped the first batches of the vaccine to Liberia for a phase III trial of up to 30,000 people.

More recently it was revealed this week that will be working with Emergent BioSolutions on a phase I trial that would addd that firm's Ebola vaccine candidate as a booster for ChAd3-EBO.

Declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organization in August last year, the West Africa outbreak of Ebola is the largest and most complex outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976 and has so far been responsible for more than 10,000 deaths.

Article by
Dominic Tyer

19th March 2015

From: Research

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