Vaccines not immune from markets

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VaccinesThe disinterest in vaccine development throughout the 1990s led many to call for government intervention.

But things seem to be changing. Since the beginning of 2007 alone, Merck, a major pharmaceutical maker, earned $2 billion on vaccines - a figure that prodded a long-awaited uptick in research outlays in the industry. Though research traditionally has been biased toward servicing of western maladies, companies are beginning to recognize the profit potential at the bottom of the pyramid. "The size of the market is incredible, both in America and around the world" says Adel Mahmoud, a former president of Merck's vaccines unit.

While individual spending on health care is low – only $183 a year for a typical rural household in Uganda, the measured BOP health market in 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean represents 2.1 billion people who annually spend $87.7 billion.

Though it may be too early to talk about research fever, it is starting to look like a rush.

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