Rite Aid launching national shingles vaccination and education campaign

[Editor’s Note: We have not attempted to cover the growing volume of media releases from pharmacy chains and retailers in the U.S. which now offer various vaccination services. But we noted the announcement below because it includes what is described as a “national education and vaccination campaign.” We are monitoring with interest the growing role of the retail sector in delivering vaccinations and associated educational services.]

Rite Aid, the U.S. consumer pharmacy chain, said it is “launching a national shingles vaccination and education campaign against the painful nerve disease that strikes 1 million adult Americans annually – half of them over the age of 60. The disease and long-term pain that may result can leave victims bed-ridden for weeks, months or even years.” Rite Aid said it is offering the shingles vaccine at more than 1,200 Rite Aid pharmacies in 31 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and that “nearly all insurance plans including Medicare Part D will cover at least some of the cost, which varies by insurance coverage.” Rite Aid noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the ZOSTAVAX vaccine as the only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles, which is caused by viral remnants of chickenpox that lay dormant in spinal fluid for decades and can flair up later in life causing long-term pain and inflammation.

Rite Aid said its pharmacists can also “counsel customers and answer questions about shingles including who should and should not be vaccinated. Besides information about shingles at www.riteaid.com/shingles and the shingles shot locator at the same site, in-store signage urges vaccination for protection against shingles, and brochures explaining shingles are available in all Rite Aid stores offering the vaccine. Rite Aid is launching this nationwide campaign after conducting several regional clinics last year and encountering high demand from patients and healthcare providers.”


Global Vaccines Revenues Projected to More than Double by 2016

[Editor’s Note: We do not generally cover – and do not in any way endorse – commercial market research about the vaccines sector. But we do recognize the rapid growth of the vaccine industry and the revenue and profit contribution of vaccines in a number of pharma companies. These dynamics clearly affect vaccine ethics and policy. The research below provides projections about the scale and projected growth of the sector and is interesting in that regard.]

Research and Markets: By 2016, the Global Vaccines Market is Expected to Generate More Than Twice the Annual Revenue of 2009

“The global vaccines industry was valued at $24 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach $52 billion in 2016 at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.5%. The vaccines market, which was once considered a low-profit segment of the top players’ portfolios, showed a turnaround after the resounding success of Prevnar, the first blockbuster vaccine. The ability of vaccines to generate high revenue and profits despite being priced at a premium has proven attractive to both existing players in the market and to big pharmaceutical companies who have been watching the development of the market with interest.

“The surge in revenues and growth rates came at a time when the pharmaceutical industry was under huge pressure from patent expiries and weakened pipelines. The pharmaceutical industry has been intent on strengthening their revenue streams and streamlining operations through lay-offs and shutdowns of manufacturing and R&D operations. The success of premium priced vaccines such as Prevnar, Gardasil, and Cervarix has prompted big pharmaceutical players such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca to invest in the vaccines industry which promises safe revenues due to a lack of threat from generics….”

“…The authors analyze that licensing and co-development agreements are characteristic of the global vaccines market where technologies and development platforms are highly dispersed amongst small and big companies. Smaller vaccine companies that do not have the financial muscle to compete against the top vaccine players make use of their technologies to generate revenues through royalties and through other revenue sharing agreements. Also, a number of public-private partnerships help the vaccines industry develop interventions for new diseases

‘”The global vaccines industry is a difficult industry for smaller companies to succeed in due to the high development costs required for licensing, acquisitions, marketing and manufacturing. Vaccine companies with promising candidates in the pipeline engage in out-licensing agreements with the top players, who in turn provide marketing, sales, and regulatory support. However, the vaccines industry remains an attractive one for large and small companies alike due to its potential to generate revenues from smaller disease populations too. Hence, the vaccines industry is expected to remain highly active in the future fuelled by the encouragement and financing from governments and other health organizations.”

More at: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100115005381&newsLang=en

Lancet: Editorial – Rethinking strategies to control hepatitis B and hepatitis C

The Lancet
Jan 16, 2010  Volume 375  Number 9710  Pages 171 – 252

Rethinking strategies to control hepatitis B and hepatitis C
The Lancet

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses are common, infecting about 500 million people worldwide. Often asymptomatic, the disease might not be noticed until complications, such as hepatocellular carcinoma, develop. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination, and simple precautions reduce infection from both viruses. But this knowledge has not been translated into decreased incidence in the USA. The Institute of Medicine investigated why not in Hepatitis and liver cancer: a national strategy for prevention and control of hepatitis B and C published on Jan 11.

Risk factors for H1N1 influenza complications in 2009 Hajj pilgrims

The Lancet
Jan 16, 2010  Volume 375  Number 9710  Pages 171 – 252

Risk factors for H1N1 influenza complications in 2009 Hajj pilgrims
Philippe Gautret, Philippe Parola, Philippe Brouqui

Z A Memish and colleagues (Nov 21, p 1786)1 describe the outcome of a consultation between Saudi Arabia and WHO that resulted in a plan to mitigate the transmission of influenza A H1N1 at the 2009 Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Of these recommendations, the most challenging was the one suggesting that the population groups at highest risk of the complications of influenza (pregnant women, those with chronic diseases, and people younger than 12 years or older than 65 years) voluntarily refrain from the 2009 Hajj…

Science: Special Issue – Innate Immunity

15 January 2010  Vol 327, Issue 5963, Pages 237-380

Special Issue: Innate Immunity

New Approaches in Immunotherapy
Paul G. Thomas1 and Peter C. Doherty2

The past decade of research on the immune system has seen an incredible expansion of knowledge in the area of innate immunity. Analysis over the preceding years had focused largely on how T and B cells orchestrate immune responses to specific pathogens, and how their memory of these encounters confers long-lasting protection. In contrast to these specific “adaptive” mechanisms, innate immunity is driven by a plethora of proteins produced by a wide range of cells throughout the body, and it provides immediate broad-spectrum responses to foreign invaders. This new understanding of innate immunity is providing insights into host reactions to noninfectious diseases such as cancer, to antigen-independent inflammatory conditions such as periodic fever syndromes, and to the inflammatory modulation of basic cellular metabolic processes. As this special issue on innate immunity points out (p. 283), ongoing research to further characterize this complex response system has great potential for identifying new therapies to treat human disease.

1 Paul G. Thomas is an Assistant Member in the Department of Immunology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
2 Peter C. Doherty is the Michael F. Tamer Chair of Biomedical Research in the Department of Immunology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, and a Laureate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Australia. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1996.

Editorial: Governments, off-patent vaccines, smallpox and universal childhood immunization

Volume 28, Issue 4, Pages 869-1132 (22 January 2010)

Governments, off-patent vaccines, smallpox and universal childhood immunization
Stanley Music

WHO is now celebrating more than 30 years of freedom from smallpox. What was originally seen as a victory over an ancient scourge can now be viewed as an epidemiologically driven programme to overcome governmental inertia and under-achievement in delivering an off-patent vaccine. Though efforts are accelerating global vaccine use, a plea is made to push the world’s governments to commit to universal childhood vaccination via a proposed new programme. The latter should begin by exploiting a long list of ever more affordable off-patent vaccines, vaccines that can virtually eliminate the bulk of the world’s current vaccine-preventable disease burden.