Immunization for prevention and treatment of cocaine abuse: legal and ethical implications

Drug Alcohol Depend. 1997 Dec 15;48(3):167-74. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(97)00075-6.


A cocaine vaccine, currently under investigation by several laboratories, would be an innovative and exciting means of treating and preventing cocaine addiction. However, an approved vaccine will raise at least two major areas of concern. (1) Loss of privacy: cocaine antibodies might be used as a marker to identify, penalize, and stigmatize vaccinated individuals. (2) Selection for vaccination: should immunization be voluntary or compelled: should immunization be restricted to addicts, to those at risk of addiction, or should it be universal; should immunization be used in children? I propose to analogize cocaine addiction to an infectious disease which poses a major public health problem. This approach can provide an ethical and legal foundation on which we may begin to formulate a societal approach to the use of the cocaine vaccine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beneficence
  • Child
  • Cocaine / immunology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / immunology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Communicable Disease Control / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / standards
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Immunization Programs* / standards
  • Mandatory Programs*
  • Minors
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Public Health Practice* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Public Health Practice* / standards
  • Risk Assessment*
  • United States
  • Vaccines* / therapeutic use
  • Voluntary Programs*


  • Vaccines
  • Cocaine