Monday, October 22, 2007

Malaria vaccine by 2012?

There were many news reports on the apparent success of an experimental malaria vaccine called Mosquirix that was administered to infants.

A clinical trial in Mozambique of 214 infants aged 10 to 18 weeks found the vaccine was safe and reduced new infections by 65 percent over a three-month period after treatment. Clinical illness was cut by 35 percent over six months, reported Reuters.

Big pharmaceutical multinationals have come in heavy criticism by non-governmental organizations in recent years for spending bucketloads of money researching drugs for nuisances like impotence but relatively little on several tropical diseases that kill people in poorer countries.

Perhaps in response to this public pressure, Mosquirix's producer, GlaxoSmithKline, has spent some $300 million developing the drug and expects to spend as much as another $100 million in the future.

Glaxo has promised to sell Mosquirix at low prices in developing countries. The exact price will be negotiated with purchasers, who are likely to be multilateral groups who would cover the cost on behalf of countries where malaria is endemic.

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