US, Russia, China won't join global initiative to offer fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. Why not?

The U.S., China, and Russia are in a "vaccine race" that treats a global challenge like a winner-take-all game.

  • More than 150 countries have joined an initiative to develop, produce, and fairly distribute an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
  • But China, Russia, and the U.S. have declined to join in a bid to win the vaccine race.
  • The absence of these three economies risks the success of the global initiative and future collaborations.
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    Drugs: What America gets wrong about addiction and policy

    Addiction is not a moral failure. It is a learning disorder, and viewing it otherwise stops communities and policy makers from the ultimate goal: harm reduction.

    • "Why are some drugs legal and others illegal? ... if you ask how and why this distinction got made, what you realize when you look at the history is it has almost nothing to do with the relative risks of these drugs and almost everything to do with who used and who was perceived to use these drugs," says Ethan Nadelmann.
    • In this video, Maia Szalavitz, public policy and addiction journalist; Carl Hart, professor of neuroscience and psychology at Columbia University; Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the Drug Policy Alliance; and Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron dissect why American society's perceptions of drug addiction and its drug policies are so illogical.
    • Drug addiction is not a moral failure and the stereotypes about who gets addicted are not true. Policy that is built to punish drug users for their immorality only increases harm and death rates.

    Will antidepressant medications ever require informed consent?

    That question is at the heart of the new documentary, "Medicating Normal."

    Image by Elisa Riva
    • The directors of the new documentary, "Medicating Normal," want psychiatrists to require informed consent when writing prescriptions.
    • Long-term effects of antidepressant usage do not have to be documented for FDA approval.
    • Big Think talks to producer/director Wendy Ratcliffe and film subject, Angela Peacock.
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    Consumer advocacy groups are mostly funded by Big Pharma, according to new research

    An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.

    Image by Jukka Niittymaa / Pixabay
    • Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
    • The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
    • Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.

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    The plasma debate: The ethics of paying for human blood

    Should pharmaceutical companies pay people for their plasma? Here's why paid plasma is a hot ethical issue.

    • Human blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of blood. It is used to treat rare blood conditions and has an increasing number of medical applications.
    • It is a $26 billion industry, and the US is a major exporter of plasma to other nations. Most nations do not collect enough plasma to sustain therapies for their own citizens. The US has such a large supply of plasma because it pays people to donate plasma—a controversial practice.
    • Is it ethical for people to be paid for their plasma? Here, Peter Jaworski, an ethics scholar, explains five key arguments people make against paying people for plasma—safety, security, altruism, commodification, and exploitation—and explains his views on them. What do you think?
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