|What a Difference a Day Makes|
|Topic||Supply and Demand|
|Key Words||Market, companies, development, manufacturing, consumers, subsidize, research and development, costs|
Until September 11, 2001, there was no significant market for bio-terrorism products. Companies were reluctant to make something that probably was not going to be used. In any case, vaccine development was difficult and expensive. Manufacturing problems were common. Liability was an issue, especially as healthy people could suffer from side effects. Unfortunately, the lack of interest in vaccines led to a reduction in major vaccine producers from 12 to 4 over 15 years.
But now, American consumers are seeking treatments or preventive measures to deal with chemical or biological attacks. Prescriptions for Cipro, made by Bayer, which treats anthrax, have increased rapidly. The drug is on back order now. Several biotech firms are seeing opportunities to develop drugs to fight anthrax, dengue fever, microbes, and smallpox. The federal government may subsidize research and development costs.
However, new vaccines against anthrax, smallpox, and other bio-warfare agents are a long way off. For example, under government pressure, 40 million doses of a new formulation of the smallpox vaccine have been promised by 2002, but some doubt that a plant can be running in time.
(Updated November 1, 2001)
|Source||Julie Appleby, "Fears put focus on biotech companies," USA Today, October 10, 2001.|
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