chapter  19
12 Pages

Disrupting global health

The Gates Foundation and the vaccine business
WithJacob Levich

Critiques of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation acknowledge (BMGF), to varying degrees, the malign effects of ‘philanthrocapitalism’ on the people’s health. The Foundation’s embrace of the practices and organisational norms of corporate capitalism is neither accidental nor misguided, but is central to a deliberate strategy for bringing ‘disruptive innovation’ to the public health field. The leadership team for BMGF’s Global Health Division includes former executives of AstraZeneca, Eli-Lilly, Novartis, Parke-Davis, Pfizer, and Wyeth. A more addition to GAVI’s array of services is ‘innovative development financing’, a debt-based mechanism that taps capital markets to subsidise vaccine buyers and manufacturers. Program for Appropriate Technology in Health is heavily involved in orchestrating and funding clinical trials necessary to bring branded vaccines to market. World Health Organization is empowered to marshal and allocate financial commitments from United Nations member nations; additionally, the agency figures prominently in the regulatory process by which underdeveloped countries issue approvals for new vaccines and other drugs.