The Business of Global Health No. 7

Due to time constraints and other interests, I’ll be using a newsletter format for my future postings. This post is number 7 and I’ve put numbers in the titles of past newsletter-format posts in the archive for constancy. I thank the 50 or so regular readers of Retronyma for their interest in the past, and welcome their comments on this format.

Dengue Vaccine Market to Increase to $400 million by 2020 A report released over the summer by the UK-based market research firm, Global Data, projects a 40% CAGR in sales of dengue fever vaccines as products by Sanofi and Takeda are launched. According to the company’s press release in FierceVaccines, almost all the growth will be due to purchases by Mexico’s and Brazil’s national immunization programs. The $400 million projection is a modest market in the industry, but I’m guessing it is an under-estimate, especially if self-pay and governmental sales were not estimated for South and Southeast Asia, where 2 billion people are at risk (CDC Dengue). At $8K, the report is too expensive for me, so I did not check its methodology, but the author, Christopher Pace, is local guy (see his profile at Chris Pace) so if I bump into him I’ll ask. For more on market-generation by the Brazilian government’s procurement practices, see my post, “Procurement Power”.

Gates Foundation Puts More Money into Genocea The Cambridge-MA-based vaccine discovery company, Genocea received an additional $1.2 million for its malaria vaccine program from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last week (FierceVaccine article). As I noted in my post, “More Not Less”, the Gates bought into the company’s Round C financing in 2012, one of the disappointingly few times it has made a VC-type investment. The good news is that Genocea stated that “good progress” is being made in the program; the no-so-good news is that no testable candidate has emerged in two years.

Last Mile Grants Also last week, the Pfizer Foundation announced grants totaling $2 million to UNICEF, Save the Children, and the International Rescue Committee to try technology-based interventions, like cell phones and solar-powered tablets, to improve childhood vaccination in Africa (FierceVaccines article). While any support is good, the Foundation and its parent company have been slight-to-modest supporters of improving health care in developing countries (see the Access to Medicines Index 2012), and one would expect more from what is the largest of the big pharma in terms of revenue (upwards of $50 billion in 2013).

Another Ebola Vaccine to be Tested (?) According to a recent report in The Local, an English-language news website, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, a division of the University of Basel, will start a clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine candidate “soon.” This is good news, but I could not find any information on the upcoming trial on Institute’s English website.

Epirus Announces Deal for Chinese Market As I have posted in the past, Epirus Biopharmaceuticals Inc., is one of the few US start-ups with an explicit business model of developing biosimilar drugs for and in non-US markets (“Soup to Nuts Replay”). Last week, the company issued a press release describing a deal with one of its investors, Livzon Mabpharm Inc., a joint venture between two Chinese pharma companies started in 2010, in which Livzon will seek approval of Epirus’s lead product, BOW015 (a generic Remicade) and will manufacture and sell it in China and Taiwan. The companies will collaborate in a similar way on up to five additional products. The company did a similar deal with Ranbaxy in India earlier this year. My guess: more competition and capacity for biological drugs will result in more affordable prices where these important products are currently under-utilized.

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