How Vaccines Became Big Business

Dr. Ossi came to the hastily arranged gathering of health officials and academics expecting to talk to them about his company’s research into anti-viral drugs and flu vaccine. But the health experts clustered around a handful of tables were not interested in hearing about the science behind such products. They had much more pressing concerns.

They only had one question, Dr. Ossi recalls: “How much can you make and how fast can you make it?”

It was a watershed moment for him. For most of his career, working in vaccine research – indeed, most research related to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases – was a ticket to obscurity at a big drug company. The high stakes and big profits for companies like Glaxo were not in vaccines, but in multibillion-dollar blockbuster drugs: the Wellbutrins, the Zantacs and the Valtrexes

Paul Waldie and Grant Robertson explain how vaccines became big business.

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