With the Phacilitate Vaccines Forum taking place in our backyard, FierceVaccines decided we had to check it out. We talked to you and your industry counterparts to get your opinions on growing trends in the field and what you expect in the coming year.
Phacilitate attendees on growing market trends
Despite cutbacks across the life sciences fields, the vaccines market has continued to grow and is expected to maintain that trend. Although previously associated with low profit margins and slow growth rates, analysts at Frost & Sullivan recently released a report predicting that the vaccines market would more than double from 2007 and 2014, with revenue jumping from $4.5 billion to $9.85 billion. And you all agreed.
According to Forum attendees, the driving factor will not only be innovative technology, but addressing unmet needs in the area of infectious disease. Indeed, the keywords at the Forum seemed to be "unmet need."
"Nowadays, the [focus] is unmet needs, neglected diseases. The majority of the foundations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the [Wellcome Trust], are providing a lot of money for vaccines for the developing countries--for example, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV. So they want to see that these vaccines can be applied effectively in developing countries," Rangappa Ramachandra, PhD, program director and lead scientists of immunology at Covance.
With Barack Obama declaring addressing infectious disease targets one of his healthcare initiatives, its likely we'll see a renewed focus here in the U.S. as well. It's a huge unmet need, said Grant Pickering, president and CEO of Juvaris BioTherapeutics.
"Twenty-five percent of the deaths annually are from infectious disease," Pickering explained. "So immunization is the best strategy to be able to prevent this continued problem." Juvaris is currently developing a vaccine adjuvant for seasonal flu vaccines for the elderly population, as well as vaccines for HSV-2, universal flu and pandemic flu.
While preventive vaccines have been the industry's bread and butter, there's increasing interest in therapeutic vaccines. Research is already being conducted for a number of major infectious diseases, including HIV, HPV and hepatitis. As you know, before announcing the Wyeth merger, Pfizer R&D chief Martin MacKay made it crystal clear at the recent JP Morgan conference that the pharma giant was interested in therapeutic vaccines.
"I think [growth in the industry] relies and depends on a breakthrough in therapeutic vaccines," said Forum attendee Benny Daniels, managing partner of Insight BioVentures, a consulting firm based in Belgium.
Phacilitate attendees offer 2009 predictions
Finally, we asked attendees to give us one-liner predictions for the vaccine field in the coming year. Here's what they had to say:
"We are going to see a kind of cocktails of technology because you're going to need to put together several different technologies in order to get these sophisticated new products to work."--Kalevi Reijonen, M.D., president and CEO, FIT Biotech.
"If the vaccines are safe, they're already blockbusters."--Rangappa Ramachandra, PhD, program director and lead scientists of immunology, Covance.
"More traditional companies will enter the vaccine environment. As you see already happening; Pfizer did."--Benny Daniels, managing partner, Insight BioVentures.
"We're concentrated on adjuvants and I think this could easily be the year of the adjuvant in the sense that the recognition of infectious disease as a critical unmet need is on everyone's radar screen."--Grant Pickering, CEO, Juvaris BioTherapeutics.