Updated on 8 October 2012
Ms Julie Phillips, CEO, BioDiem, Australia
Vaccines along with better hygiene are among the most effective solutions to reduce epidemics. It's a tried and tested fact that prevention really is the best cure. Unfortunately, implementing effective vaccination programs in developing nations is fraught with difficulty for many reasons. These include the availability of vaccines for the ‘neglected' diseases, which particularly affect the developing world, feasibility of distribution, and the availability for large-scale production in the face of a pandemic.
The global vaccine market was valued at $28 billion in 2010, up from $18.5 billion in 2007, an astonishing leap that was driven sur to concerns about bird and swine flu. The lion's share of the sales went to a handful of giant vaccine producers, who focused mostly on the developed world. However, the challenges outlined above perpetuate the cycle of chronic illness and pandemics in developing nations.
BioDiem's role in this space is as a small, nimble developer of technologies for major neglected diseases, supported by an existing influenza vaccine licensing business. Our diverse portfolio is complemented by some of the most wide-ranging partnership networks in the Australian life sciences sector, including agreements with the World Health Organisation (WHO), who have facilitated access to partners like the Serum Institute of India, a vaccine supplier to more than 140 countries.
We believe that the tide is beginning to turn for biotechs, whose market focus is outside the ‘traditional' markets of the US and Europe. Although BioDiem's strategic focus on infectious diseases includes global targets like hepatitis and the Epstein-Barr virus, it is in developing markets that some of our greatest opportunities lie. The development of groups like The WHO and major funding agencies like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which support research in this area, have significantly enhanced the prospects of success for companies with innovative solutions to offer.
To illustrate where our work with developing countries began, we must turn to BioDiem's lead product, the Live Attenuated Influenza Virus (LAIV) flu vaccine. This technology carries significant advantages over standard flu vaccines including the ability to be manufactured in more doses at a higher speed, which is a clear advantage in the face of a pandemic. These vaccines also do not require a mercury-containing preservative that some evidence has suggested may cause occasional adverse reactions, and which is being phased out of many common vaccines in developing countries.