Pharmaceutical companies drawn to development of vaccines for variety of diseases

Monday,  November 30, 2009 3:01 AM

By Linda A. Johnson

MARIETTA, Pa. — Malaria. Tuberculosis. Alzheimer’s disease. AIDS. Flu. Genital herpes. Urinary-tract infections. Grass allergies. Traveler’s diarrhea. You name it, the pharmaceutical industry is working on a vaccine to prevent it.

Many could be on the market within five years.

Contrast that with five years ago, when so many companies had abandoned the vaccine business that half the U.S. supply of flu shots was lost because of factory contamination at one of the two manufacturers left.

Vaccines are no longer a sleepy, low-profit niche in a booming drug industry. They’re starting to give ailing pharmaceutical companies a shot in the arm.

The lure of big profits, advances in technology and growing government support have drawn in more companies, from nascent biotechs to Johnson & Johnson. That means that recent remarkable strides in overcoming dreaded diseases and annoying afflictions probably will continue.

“Even if a small portion of everything that’s going on now is successful in the next 10 years, you put that together with the last 10 years, (and) it’s going to be characterized as a golden era,” said Emilio Emini, Pfizer Inc.’s head of vaccine research.



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•  Pregnant woman died in Pune, 114th death there so far (Link)

•  New bird flu suspect in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia (Link)

•  GSK files rotavirus vaccine for approval in Japan (Link)
•  151 under 18’s strange behaviors noted from H1N1, regardless of Tamiflu (Link)

•  Macedonia registers fourth flu-related victim (Link)
•  Confirmation of 11 new cases, 117 hospitalized (Link)

North Korea
•  Leader calls for ‘anti-epidemic’ measures at pig farms (Link)

South Korea
•  S. Korea reports resistant flu case (Link)

Sri Lanka
•  Government suspends all live poultry imports from France for 3 months (Link)

United States
•  US: Empoyers play Dr. Mom to limit flu impact (Link)
•  CDC: Swine flu less widespread, down to 32 states (Link)
•  AL: Alabama confirms 33rd and 34th deaths from H1N1 (Link)
•  PA: Health Centers Open for High-Risk H1N1 Groups (Link)
•  TX: Mom’s instincts saves teen with H1N1 (Link)

•  Vietnamese Youth Dies of H5N1 (Link)

•  FDA Grants First Authorization of a Commercial Flu Test (Link)
•  Webcast: Planning for a Pandemic – Can History Inform Action? (Link)

•  Opinion: WHO consistently downplaying dangers of mutated flu strains (Link)