Everyone from Bill Gates to the Pope is advocating a new market-based approach to spurring development of new vaccines. In theory, governments would agree to buy new vaccines if they achieve certain specifications. The drug companies would have a specific market to shoot for, overcoming the lean margins that drove many of the same companies out of the vaccine business years ago.
But there could be a hitch, says a feature in the Wall Street Journal. Some drug companies may not trust these governments to perform as promised, leaving them holding the bag even if they succeed in developing new vaccines. And in the case of at least two big diseases--malaria and tuberculosis--the absence of effective new vaccines may have less to do with market restrictions than basic problems dealing with the science involved. For now there's $1.5 billion up for grabs for vaccines to defend against pneumococcal disease, and both Glaxo and Wyeth are hot on the trail with late-stage candidates. The success of that program could well determine the fate of all the market-based initiatives.
- read the article in the Wall Street Journal
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