Global vax market growing at 16% clip

We all know vaccines have emerged as a major growth engine for pharma. No longer an also-ran business, vaccines are becoming big-time business stars, backed by major DTC campaigns--think Garadasil's "One Less"--and sought after by companies that lack a piece of that market. But do we know just how big?

Thanks to the World Health Organization, now we do. The WHO has released a state-of-the-vaccine-business report, focusing mostly on public health issues like access and funding. But it also offers some tantalizing stats on dollars and growth. For instance, there are now more than 120 vaccines against disease, and some 80 more are in the development phase.

But here's the big eye-opener: The vaccines market has tripled over the last eight years. Global vaccine sales have reached $17 billion, as the industry has released new products and worldwide demand has surged. Homegrown companies in the developing world have become major vaccine suppliers, to the point where Big Pharma is looking to forge alliances with them.

And if WHO has its way, more growth is on the horizon. The organization is asking rich nations to contribute more funding to vaccination campaigns in the developing world. Now, some of that contribution will likely come in the form of donations from Big Pharma. But some will be paid sales, too. And new funding or no, vaccines will continue on the upswing. A continued 16 percent per year? We'll have to wait and see.

- see the WHO release
- check out the agency's full report