The Vaccine Market

Traditional vaccines are well established with defined market niches. There is some growth through out-licensing to countries that do not have indigent manufacturing capability. Much of this activity is a result of initiatives such as the World Health Organization vaccine self-sufficiency program.

Newer vaccines, new technologies, and emerging diseases are, however, giving rise to considerable increases in the overall market. Prevnar (Wyeth), a heptavalent conjugate vaccine, has accelerated to a $1 billion plus product  since launch as recently as 2000, with sales likely to double just in the third quarter in 2003. Emerging diseases, such as West Nile Virus and SARS are giving additional impetus. Although human vaccines for these are not available yet, Fort Dodge Laboratory’s equine vaccine for West Nile Virus is reported to have achieved almost instantaneous annual sales of $50 million.

Seasonal vaccines, such as influenza, are increasing in usage and the market expanding in value due to new techniques both for production (cell culture as opposed to embryonated chicken eggs) and delivery (nasal spray methodologies). Some countries, such as Canada, have mandated the availability of vaccine to deal with pandemics.

Step changes in the vaccine market have resulted from the need for vaccines against bioterrorism threats, with substantial government orders placed in Europe and the USA for smallpox and anthrax vaccines. For example, VaxGen was awarded an $80 million contract for anthrax vaccine, and is reported to expect to achieve sales of $2.8 billion in 10 years. Acambis accelerated its development of smallpox vaccine, bringing its Massachusetts facility online more rapidly than the late 2003 date originally planned after the $343 million contract to supply 40 million doses was placed. Dynport has received $350 million in bioterrorism related vaccine work.

Vaccines for HIV / AIDS remain a major priority, but despite considerable efforts, current treatments are designed to abate the effects of the disease and to apply antiretroviral therapies, not to be preventative. The disease not only has regional variants, but changes rapidly even within a single individual patient as the virus replicates. However, there are plans to start trials of vaccines based on gene therapy, using the attenuated Ankara strain of cowpox Vaccinia virus to deliver 5 HIV genes.