Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The race for the H1N1 vaccine

Major producers are now in the race to produce the H1N1 vaccine. Obviously the dollar stakes are extremely high. Getting a contract to supply any country will represent enormous revenues for the manufacturer.

Recently the China company Sinovac claimed to be able to produce the vaccine by the end of the month and to have it out into the market by September after a 2 month clinical trial.

Novartis and Baxter using cell culture techniques, both made claims to be ready for clinical trials this month.

GSK, Sanofi and Australia's CSL are somewhat slower with the egg based methods and are projecting perhaps availability for trials in about September.

Efficacy and toxicity data for any of these vaccines will depend on clinical trials that are all yet to be conducted.

I am curious though, in a situation like this how does one decide who to contract the vaccine supply to? Would the MOH follow the usual GEBIZ open tender process? Or would they go down the road of a preferred supplier?

To what extent would this decision be coloured by the fact that of these companies, Novartis and GSK are huge investors here in Singapore, and are significant industrial partners in the manufacture of biologics and pharmaceuticals? Both Novartis and GSK have invested in excess of S$1 billion in Singapore.

Who would we eventually award the contract to?

If I were a betting person I would probably place my bets on the GSK vaccine. But I am not....so your guess is as good as mine.


jimmy said...

H1N1 virus is spreading at an alarming rate all over the world. But the vaccines for H1N1 is insufficient because it has been said that limited production of the vaccines would mostly likely be absorbed by the affluent countries. Because of that many other people might not get vaccine. Vaccines should be provided all over the world equally.

gigamole said...

Yes....it is a sad reality of life. New vaccines and new drugs are all meant for the wealthy developed countries.

Few want to research or develop drugs when the market cannot pay.

Read about the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. I will try and blog about this soon.

kelly said...

Singapore totally relies on WHO for H1N1 Vaccine recommendation: http://bit.ly/mVPAo Why it's a bad move: http://ow.ly/iSVw