An Emerging Model for Pharma
GSK has more than 25 products in its pipeline, a third of which are for diseases that are serious problems in the developing world, says Myers. One is a malaria vaccine, which completed phase II proof-of-concept trials in Mozambique in October 2004. The company is doing trials to see how well it works when administered with other vaccines to children younger than one, who are most susceptible. GSK hopes to enter the critical phase III trials at the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007, which if successful would put the vaccine in the developing world in 2009 at the earliest. The company can’t say for sure what the strategy for introducing the malaria vaccine will be, however, because it is developing the vaccine with partners.
Still, Myers expects the Rotarix experience to be repeated at GSK: “We’ve made it clear that this strategy is not just a one-off.” That could be good news for poor countries. The traditional model of developing a drug or vaccine and recouping costs in the developed world before introducing it farther afield leaves most of the world’s population in peril. Myers expects other companies to follow GSK’s lead in introducing vaccines and drugs quickly to neglected areas. “It’s something that’s going to be needed, and we need to figure out the issues and hurdles that need to be overcome in order to get vaccines as quickly as possible to the people that need them,” she says.