Vaccine Licensure in the Public Interest: Lessons from the Development of the U.S. Army Zika Vaccine

17 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2018 Last revised: 25 Feb 2020

See all articles by Ana Santos Rutschman

Ana Santos Rutschman

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Date Written: January 15, 2018


Vaccines developed by the public sector are key to preventing future outbreaks of infectious diseases. However, the licensure of these vaccines to private-sector companies under terms that do not ensure both their availability and affordability compromises their development. This Essay analyzes the recent attempted licensing deal for a Zika vaccine between the U.S. Army and Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company. The proposed grant of an exclusive license to Sanofi triggered widespread concern because none of its substantive terms were disclosed. While § 209 of the Patent Act imposes limitations on exclusive licensure, the Army released no information supporting its finding that exclusivity would serve the public interest with respect to the Zika vaccine. This proposed deal reflects the broader licensing opacity in the current regime, which undermines § 209’s safeguards. The Essay proposes changes to the Patent Act to increase transparency and accountability in the licensing process, which would ultimately result in more affordable vaccines for outbreak diseases like Zika.

Keywords: Vaccine, Zika, Army, outbreak, infectious disease, exclusivity, Patent Act, patent, technology transfer, public funding, public interest

Suggested Citation

Santos Rutschman, Ana, Vaccine Licensure in the Public Interest: Lessons from the Development of the U.S. Army Zika Vaccine (January 15, 2018). Yale Law Journal Forum, 2018, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-15, Available at SSRN:

Ana Santos Rutschman (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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