Here is the paradox of this pandemic moment: Big corporations are political villains, ridiculed by the left and the right. However, the main, and perhaps only, reason why the scourge of Covid-19 is on the decline is the vaccines developed by Big Pharma.
Few are more aware of this paradox than Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, the consumer goods, pharmaceutical and healthcare device company best known for products like Band-Aids and Tylenol. Politicians have vilified their industry for prescription drug prices and trial lawyers for using talc in their baby powder, which they discontinued in North America in 2020. But now J&J is a household name in the best way to develop their single injection Covid vaccine. , which the Food and Drug Administration approved for emergency use last month. The vaccine is increasing the supply of injections in the United States at a critical time and will allow 1 billion people worldwide to get vaccinated this year.
J & J’s journey to the vaccine, from failure to life-saving success, from investment cancellation to advancement, is a little-known story about science, business risk, and innovation. There are also lessons for those who think that capitalism is simply about rapacious profits.
“We would never be in the position we are in today if we hadn’t invested billions of dollars over decades to be able to respond,” says Gorsky, 60, in an interview Monday morning after the FDA cleared his vaccine. Covid. The U.S. Army veteran had been up as early as 3:30 am, participating in one of his morning trainings before the meetings. J & J’s Covid-19 vaccine development over the past year has been a sprint, but the process that led to it has been a decades-long marathon.
Vaccines such as polio, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and seasonal flu are made from weakened or inactivated viruses. But patients often produce a weak immune response to inactivated viruses, and injections using weakened viruses can make immunosuppressed people sick. The manufacturing process is also laborious.