Vaccines=Big Business?

In 2005, the market for pediatric vaccines was about $5 billion and the market for adult vaccines was about $4 billion.  Yet these figures could be small potatoes.  The Economist predicts that pediatric vaccine market will reach $20 billion by 2014; the adult vaccine market won’t be far behind.

What innovations may be on the way?

  • Technology to grow vaccines in petrie dishes rather than in eggs (this will not only allow individuals with egg allergies to receive these vaccines, but the petrie dish techniques can potentially bring vaccines to market faster and at lower cost).
  • Earlier influenza vaccine development lead times using “seed” viruses.
  • A universal flu vaccine.
  • Needle-less vaccines.
  • Vaccines against drug-resistant tuberculosis.
  • Vaccines against non-infectious diseases (e.g., cancer)

New vaccines against pneumococcal disease and human papilloma virus (HPV) are already a huge financial success for vaccine manufacturers. Both vaccines cost more than $100 per dose.

Still, vaccine producers must overcome fears. Many Americans mistakenly believe that vaccines cause autism. Many Nigerians do not get vaccines due to a rumor that the polio vaccine is really a Western plot to sterilize Muslims. This rumor may seem absurd, but Guatemala’s previous experience with U.S. medical care leads one to be weary. Nevertheless, vaccines–if properly administered–have the potential to greatly improve health outcomes throughout the world.

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