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'No Market', Scientists Struggle to Make Ebola Vaccines, Treatments


NBC News
By Maggie Fox

At least four vaccines are being developed to protect people against Ebola, including one that protects monkeys completely against the deadly virus. Several groups are also working on treatments, but one of the most promising is stuck in safety testing.

They might be farther along if not for one problem: money.

Even though Ebola is burning out of control in West Africa, it’s not a huge potential market for a large pharmaceutical company to sink its teeth — and its assets — into developing. That leaves the U.S. government and small, niche biopharmaceutical companies.

“I don’t see why anybody except the U.S. government would get involved in developing these kinds of countermeasures,” said Dr. Sina Bavari of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Frederick, Maryland. “There is no market in it.”

Ebola has infected more than 1,200 people and killed close to 700 of them. Among the victims are two U.S. charity workers — a doctor and a hygienist who were helping patients in Liberia. And the doctor leading the fight in Sierra Leone died from the virus this week.

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