Volume 35, Issue 31, Pages 3797-3904 (5 July 2017)
An updated methodology to review developing-country vaccine manufacturer viability
Original Research Article
Nicholas Luter, Ritu Kumar, Dai Hozumi, Tina Lorenson, Shannon Larsen, Bhavya Gowda, Amie Batson
In 1997, Milstien, Batson, and Meaney published “A Systematic Method for Evaluating the Potential Viability of Local Vaccine Producers.” The paper identified characteristics of successful vaccine manufacturers and developed a viability framework to evaluate their performance. This paper revisits the original study after two decades to determine the ability of the framework to predict manufacturer success. By reconstructing much of the original dataset and conducting in-depth interviews, the authors developed informed views on the continued viability of manufacturers in low- and middle-income country markets. Considering the marked changes in the market and technology landscape since 1997, the authors find the viability framework to be predictive and a useful lens through which to evaluate manufacturer success or failure. Of particular interest is how incumbent and potentially new developing-country vaccine manufacturers enter and sustain production in competitive international markets and how they integrate (or fail to integrate) new technology into the production process. Ultimately, most manufacturers will need to meet global quality standards to be viable. As governments and donors consider investments in vaccine producers, the updated viability factors will be a useful tool in evaluating the prospects of manufacturers over the mid to long term. The paper emphasizes that while up-front investments are important, other critical factors—including investments in a national regulatory authority, manufacturer independence, and ability to adapt and adopt new technology—are necessary to ensure viability.