Sen. Sanders to Trump: Don't give Sanofi monopoly on Zika vaccine

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is urging President Donald Trump to block the U.S. Army from giving Paris-based Sanofi exclusive rights to patents for a Zika vaccine.

The senator penned an op-ed Friday in The New York Times, saying the move would give the French drugmaker a monopoly on the vaccine.

"If Mr. Trump allows this deal, Sanofi will be able to charge whatever astronomical price it wants for its vaccine," Sen. Sanders wrote. "Millions of people in the United States and around the world will not be able to afford it even though American taxpayers have already spent more than $1 billion on Zika research and prevention efforts, including millions to develop this vaccine."

Sanofi entered into a research and development deal with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in July to accelerate the development of the promising new Zika vaccine. HHS gave Sanofi $43 million to lead the clinical and regulatory development of the vaccine, with the drugmaker expected to receive an additional $130 million in federal funding, according to Sen. Sanders.

"Before President Trump makes this deal, he must guarantee that Sanofi will not turn around and gouge American consumers, Medicare and Medicaid or our military when it sells the vaccine," wrote Sen. Sanders. "American consumers should not be forced to pay the highest price in the world for a vaccine we paid to help develop."

The Army will decide whether to grant exclusive rights for the vaccine to Sanofi later this year, according to Sen. Sanders.

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