Butantan Institute: From Snakes To Vaccines And Its Destruction Isaias Raw

isaias raw


Butantan Institute, a public organization founded in 1914, was an example that developing countries could participate in the production of vaccines, the most efficient and inexpensive tool to avoid the spreading of infection diseases. Since 1983 I invested in developing technologies to produce effective anti-venoms sera and vaccines to distribute free for all the population in Brazil. This became the model to many development countries, to pursue independent research translating in safe and effective products. In 2001, with support of WHO, I became the first President of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturing Network. By 2009 Butantan reached 710 million doses of six different vaccines and 700 million doses of  anti-venoms supplied to our Ministry of Health, when began to produce the influenza vaccine.  Creating a Center of Biotechnology I was able to attracted young PhDs that were free to work in new projects, like lung surfactants which could save 50.000 newborn each year of dying suffocated immediate after delivery, or the new technology to produce human plasma derivatives, which, according to Brazilian Constitutions, could not be commercialized for profit. Butantan, succeeding to be an important producer, became the “bad example” to the large vaccines and biologics producers from the developed countries. The official control agency was induced to demand that Butantan renovate its production plants and the new Direction hired private builders to take apart buildings and scatter equipments removed. Due to delay of the Congress release the budget of the Ministry of Health, funds have being saved in advance to guarantee the production of vaccines and sera each year.

Priority was given by the new Director to make Butantan beautiful, using the reserve funding, which was essential to start vaccine production each year, while the Ministry of Heath budget begin to import vaccines from the large pharmas, without taking notice of the increase of cost (Butantan low LPS DTP cost about US$ 0,16 per dose, compared with imported DTaP is US$ 15.00 per dose!). Meantime Butantan director used the Butantan Foundatiom rotating funds to make Butantan beauful and rebuinding a huge buinding for a central bureaucracyoffice, increasing the staff with ”administrators” without understanding what was the public health role of Butantan .The new generation of Directors of Butantan and the Large producers won the battle.  

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18103/imr.v6i3.854


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