2011 年 131 巻 12 号 p. 1743-1744
In the 1990s, drug companies focused their resources on chemistry-based proprietary blockbuster compounds (small molecules) for chronic diseases that could bring in several billion dollars in a short period of time. Since then, the focus has turned to biologics (proteins/high MW molecules) such as anticancer agents, antibodies, and so on. Vaccines, in contrast, are a rather slow-growing market, administered only a few times per patient, low priced, and often undifferentiated. Due to the influenza scares of recent years, the above view has changed remarkably. According to some analysts, the annual growth of the current $2.2bn vaccine market will become almost 10 percent over the next 5 years. In 2009, Pfizer (US), in an effort to boost their small vaccine-related business, purchased Wyeth (US). In October 2010, Johnson & Johnson announced they were buying Crucell (Germany), the only vaccine maker who had remained independent. GSK (UK) holds the top spot in the vaccine market with a 25% share. Pfizer (US), Merck (US), Novartis (Switzerland), and Sanofi-Aventis (France) are next, while Johnson & Johnson has moved into the 6th position by purchasing Crucell. There is of course an essential therapeutic need for vaccines, however, why are major pharmaceutical companies now investing a significant amount of resources in the vaccine business? Vaccine development may take more time than that of small molecules, but they are less risky from an intellectual property standpoint, and complicated manufacturing processes create a high barrier to follow-on biologics/biosimilars. Also in Japan, since the recent influenza scares, there has been acceleration in movement and cooperation among industry and government, including lawmakers.