Use of Benefit Corporations to Accelerate Access to Affordable Vaccines

2019Healthcare Law

Julie Bateman

Low- and middle-income countries face the heaviest burden from vaccine-preventable diseases, yet many of these countries cannot afford critical vaccines. Vaccines are often protected by patents so that pharmaceutical companies can recoup development costs. Consequently, vaccine manufacturers in developing countries must wait until the patents expire to produce lower-cost generic vaccines. Additionally, when the development of new vaccines relies on existing patents, such development is hindered. Benefit corporations offer an opportunity for the private and public sectors to align interests in accelerating critical vaccine development. Vaccine developers, restructured as benefit corporations, could commit to both special licensing agreements with developing country vaccine manufactures and product development partnerships to accelerate access to affordable vaccines in low- and middle-income countries. In exchange, the public sector could reserve research and development funding opportunities for these benefit corporations.

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