Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology Industries Hesitant To Make Large Investments in AIDS Vaccine Research, IAVI Says
Many pharmaceutical manufacturers and biotechnology companies have hesitated to make large investments with their own funds in AIDS vaccine research because of scientific and financial risks, according to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. IAVI said pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms in 2005 spent about 10% of the estimated $759 million on AIDS vaccine development, and three of the 30 companies involved in AIDS vaccine research invested more than $5 million of their own money. Robert Hecht, vice president of IAVI, said pharmaceutical firms are concerned that they might not be able to recover their long-term investments in drug research, in part because HIV prevalence is highest in developing countries that cannot afford to pay for treatment. Worldwide funding for vaccine research has doubled over the last five years in large part because of increases in U.S. government funding which totaled $574 million in 2005. However, as federal and philanthropic funding -- such as commitments of $287 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- have increased, the estimated private sector investment has decreased. IAVI said private sector funding dropped from $99 million in 2002 to $75 million in 2005. "We need industry to be more involved in this search for an AIDS vaccine because they bring unique skills and resources to challenge that no one else can," Hecht said, adding, "They bring a very disciplined approach to project management and conducting clinical trials. They know about the bioengineering and manufacturing possibilities." Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said that drug and biotechnology firms "have remained key players in the search for a vaccine, despite the difficulty of vaccine research and the fact their researchers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this important scientific effort so far" (Cohen, Newark Star-Ledger, 9/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.