Sanofi-Aventis leads the industry in its research investment for neglected diseases, with a large number of pipeline products—as
well as key essential drugs already on the market for malaria and TB, among other neglected diseases. Currently, the company's
vaccines unit is attempting to combine diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and hepatitis
B vaccines in a single injection. Through public-private partnerships, it aims to develop an HIV vaccine, and it is running
trials for a dengue fever vaccine. An antimeningococcal vaccine will be available in 2006.
The company takes a business-like approach to the developing world, seeing market opportunities in addition to traditional
philanthropy. Nonetheless, quantitative metrics would make that reporting more robust.
Wyeth is not leveraging its established vaccine business to benefit the public-health crisis. While vaccine research remains
a bright spot, Wyeth's other public-health initiatives appear modest.
Today, the company runs trials for a children's pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in Africa and works closely with the Global
Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. It also has a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control to investigate HIV
vaccine candidates. But it devotes no substantial resources to public health in developing countries.
Wyeth philanthropy includes product donations but falls short of the enduring, large-scale financial commitments of other
[New Kid on the Block]
Schering-Plough currently has a CCR5 receptor antagonist called vicriviroc in Phase II trials, which may become a second-line
therapy. It is exciting to see a new company in this area.
But, access remains a question. The company has made no public statements about exploring licensing options. However, CEO
Fred Hassan led Pharmacia when that company out-licensed an ARV and advocated strongly for other companies to do the same.
Most companies would benefit from increasing the quality of their reporting, but for Schering-Plough, which is developing
its first HIV drug, this is even more critical. SP has almost no information on the Web or in its annual report concerning
its strategy for addressing global health issues.
Ultimately, the soundest risk-reduction strategy for any company is a response that privileges public health, so that the
underlying cause of the crisis—infectious diseases in developing countries—is addressed. Although it is not possible for pharma
companies to wholly bring this about, there is a wide range of options available that they are failing to take advantage of.
Kieran Hartsough email@example.com
is a public health research associate at ICCR. Daniel Rosan firstname.lastname@example.org
, is program director for public health at ICCR. Lisa Sachs email@example.com
is a public health research associate at ICCR.