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Pharmaceutical Giants Celebrate Swine Flu Scare With Windfall Profits

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Robert Weisman
Boston Globe
Thursday, October 22, 2009

For a handful of drug makers, including the Novartis AG vaccine division in Cambridge, the global effort to combat the swine flu is turning out to be good business, bringing them a $7 billion windfall.

race to produce the H1N1 vaccine, at the urging of the World Health Organization and governments here and abroad, has strained supply chains and forced manufacturers to untangle production snags. That has led to supply shortages and delays in shipping the medicine to clinics and other health care providers.

But the urgency also has taught the companies valuable lessons about handling pandemics; helped them hone emergency response programs; and fueled new research, acquisitions, and investments in vaccines for viruses and infections ranging from hepatitis to meningitis.

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That will benefit them long after the H1N1 alert is over. The global market for vaccines is projected to more than double from $16 billion in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available, to $35 billion in 2014, according to Cambridge consulting firm Scientia Advisors.

“With a pandemic like this, the upside for us is clearly significant,’’ said Andrin Oswald, chief executive of Cambridge-based Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, a unit of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant. “The quicker we can ramp up our volume, the better it will be for people in the United States and around the world.’’

Full story here.

This article was posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 10:22 am





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