New Flu vaccine manufacturing process and impact

A New York Times article (February 20, 2011) reports on a faster manufacturing process for flu vaccines – using animal cells vs using chicken eggs. The new manufacturing process is reported to be faster by six weeks and with lower contamination.  The benefit is reported to be a later decision regarding the appropriate vaccines to use in a season (and thus a better fit with flu strains), faster rampup of production and fewer shortages.  The past processes required an earlier decision and thus possible mismatches and shortages. The report matches ideas of Bayesian updates for fashion products and can well decrease costs while improving overall effectiveness.  But the faster approval process in Europe means that Baxter is already selling these vaccines in Europe (see earlier blog).  This suggests an interesting issue for the pharmaceutical industry – will innovations funded by the US end up as products for Europeans and the world before they benefit US consumers ? Given the benefit of decisions closer to the season, and new technologies for manufacturing, will vaccine manufacturers see a benefit to US manufacturing ?

About aviyer2010

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