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Thursday, December 31, 2009

"How Vaccines Became BIG Business"...

.. or how to make a million dollars off of the scared masses.

A very clear calculated look at the history of the flu vaccine production within the business sector of Big Pharma. Did you think that it was about health? Did you think it was about saving lives? Did you think it was about stopping a pandemic? You'd be wrong.

Paul Waldie and Grant Robertson don't take sides in their article for the Globe & Mail. They don't point fingers at the vaccine manufacturers or the anti-vax movement populous. They give you the facts, clear and cold.

....but the statement of these facts leaves little room for anyone to NOT see that Vaccines are "BIG Business". Businesses that looks at dollars signs in the Millions, if not Billions. With current news stories breaking about former CDC directors being named President for Merek's vaccine division, and Research scientists and directors of WHO being paid large amounts of money by various pharmaceutical companies/vaccine manufacturers..... well really, do you need a map to join the dots?

Money talks. And it talks very loudly.

How vaccines became big business

Paul Waldie and Grant Robertson Globe and Mail Update
A health care worker fills a syringe with H1N1 flu vaccine on the opening day of public clinics in Winnipeg, Oct. 26

Making flu vaccines used to be a money-losing business. But that all changed with a flu pandemic on the other side of the world

"In a year that will be remembered for widespread public worry about the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, vaccines have become a $24-billion business. Analysts predict the global vaccine industry will top $40-billion by 2012. For companies like Glaxo, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck & Co., Novartis AG and Pfizer Inc., the fear of a pandemic has translated into a financial windfall that has been years in the making. Worldwide, nearly 1 billion doses of H1N1 vaccine have been ordered in 2009...

“The barriers to enter the market are extremely high,” said Mr. Monteyne in Belgium. “You don't become a vaccine maker over night. That's why we have a few big players, and very few only.” That meant the giants could push hard to increase prices. And they did.

Sanofi-Aventis expects to earn close to $6-billion (U.S.) in vaccine revenue next year and double its sales by 2013. This quarter, sales of H1N1 vaccine alone will top $500-million. It is suddenly a good time to be a flu shot maker....

Glaxo had been lobbying several governments around the world to get higher vaccine prices and access to massive cash reserves countries were setting aside to cope with a pandemic threat...

Indeed, the company had already been lobbying governments well before then. Since the late 1990s, prices for flu vaccine in North America have soared from $2 per dose to as high as $12 in 2007. The price has recently fallen back to about $8 as buying volumes increased in the face of H1N1. But that's still a healthy margin, as some analysts estimate it costs about $1 to make each dose.

The company does not discuss its costs, but Mr. Monteyne said the cost of a flu shot is flexible depending on whether the buyer can pay more. “We have a tiered pricing strategy,” Mr. Monteyne said. “It is mainly based on the level of income of the country.”...

New fears over H1N1 were the catalyst to a completely new way of buying and selling vaccines that many countries are expected to follow. Flu shots are now a product for the masses. Non-seasonal flu shots such as H1N1 could become a yearly norm.

Soaring vaccine sales are also pushing companies to chase profit in other types of shots. The race is now on to develop blockbuster vaccines, defined as those that bring in more than $1-billion annually. Two recently developed vaccines – Prevnar for pneumonia and Garasil for cervical cancer – have become blockbusters, selling close to $2-billion a year....

HERE to read the complete article from the Globe & Mail