Small profit margins and high litigation risks drove most companies out of the vaccine business decades ago. As a possible pandemic looms, pharma re-enters the fray. Is it too late?
Dec 1, 2005
Like the course of a pandemic itself, the great avian influenza scare came in waves. In 1997, the first case of the now infamous H5N1 strain of bird flu emerged in Hong Kong, infecting 18 people and killing six. In late 2003 it struck again—more than 120 people fell ill and at least 60 died over the next two years. Then this fall, David Nabarro, MD, the UN coordinator for avian and human influenza, shocked everyone when he said a bird flu pandemic could claim up to 150 million lives—a figure the World Health Organization (WHO) quickly retracted.