With increased attention on finding a cure for the scourge of malaria, recently highlighted by the announcement of a large research and development grant from the Bill Gates Foundation, and with several candidates already in the pipeline, there could be a $1 billion market for malaria vaccine products by 2017, according to healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information, which recently published a survey of emerging vaccine products titled: “What’s Next in Vaccines? HIV, Malaria, Rabies, MRSA, and 30 Other Vaccine Targets in the 2010-2020 Pipeline.” According to Kalorama, the potential market is likely to spur companies to develop innovative products for a disease that kills nearly two million people each year.
“The attention on this disease comes at a time when pharmaceutical companies are positive about vaccines as part of their business model and searching for new targets,” said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. “A vaccine has long been the desired solution to malaria, and now the pieces seem to be coming together.”
Malaria affects 250 million people each year and causes an estimated two million deaths per year, according to World Health Organization statistics. While greater use of bed-nets and artemisinin treatments have helped reduce deaths, a vaccine that would prevent infection, and thus transmission of the disease, is the ideal of healthcare agencies and governments. Producing a malaria vaccine has proved difficult, though, because of the complicated lifecycle of the parasites that cause the disease. It is only in recent years that researchers have been able to overcome some of the challenges and produce medications that could be marketable in the near-term.
Among the most advanced candidates is GlaxoSmithKline’s Mosquirix, which continues to be investigated in several large scale Phase III trials in Africa. Initial studies of the vaccine in children under 5 have shown that it can reduce infections by as much as 63%, though more often in the range of 50%, with effects persisting for at least one year. The results are not at the 80% level that most healthcare organizations are looking for, but Kalorama sees this drug as a first step. The company aims for a 2012 market approval. Netherlands-based Crucell is also developing a malaria vaccine and conducting Phase I studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. In addition, the University of Oxford, the U. S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) and the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in India are among the institutions with malaria vaccine efforts underway.
As has been the case with other novel vaccine efforts, Kalorama expects the malaria vaccine market to start slowly and rise quickly as stockpiles are established and new products enter the market. Kalorama predicts a $100 million vaccine market from products like these by 2012, with growth to $1.05 billion by 2017. The predictions are based on products that are currently in the pipeline and not on the Gates Foundation’s announcement of a $10 billion grant for vaccine development efforts.
“The Gates Foundation grant is a considerable boost for research and should spur new products,” said Carlson. “For drug makers to stay interested in an area, a continual market must be present, and malaria is one of those areas where we think there will be a market.”
Kalorama Information’s “What’s Next in Vaccines? HIV, Malaria, Rabies, MRSA, and 30 Other Vaccine Targets in the 2010-2020 Pipeline” forecasts emerging vaccine markets through 2020 and details the major players in the industry.