Saturday, October 09, 2004

Signs of the Times - An Educated Dream

I'll have something to say about this before long. Meanwhile, this is too good not to share today.Signs of the Times - An Educated Dream

Chiron's Bad Case of the Flu

Here's a business perspective on the vaccine business discussed below in "Health system sneezes". One thing that struck me here was that vaccines are a significant profit center for Chiron -- and yet, what I have heard or read often in this discussion in recent days, that vaccine "profits are unattractive." I wonder how both can be so. Got a clue, anyone?
Chiron's Bad Case of the Flu

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Health system sneezes

Flu season is just around the corner in the United States, and we've just learned that nearly half the country's supply of flu vaccine is likely to be destroyed. The stuff may be contaminated, say regulators in Great Britain, where 48 million doses were manufactured by an American company named Chiron. The whole 48 million are off the market at the moment, while decisions are made about whether any of it can be safely used.

It seems that only two companies manufacture the U.S. supply of flu vaccine, which has to be reformulated every year to keep up with the latest viral strains. We're looking at a serious shortage, especially if people remember last year's flu outbreaks. The government's news release

Health authorities in America usually encourage widespread vaccination at this time of year. Instead, they are urging now that healthy people hang back and let the sick, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases or wide exposure have the first shots available. That's a reasonable response for the short run.

For the long run, though, we have to ask if it's smart to leave the supply of an important medicine so narrowly concentrated. If the profit motive hasn't succeeded in making the vaccine market attractive to enterprise, then maybe this ought to be a public business. Is there a medical school that could do the job? Could the National Institutes of Health, or the Centers for Disease Control?

Your thoughts? If you click the "comments" line you can see others' reactions and add your own.