Monday, July 30, 2007

Vaccinating Teens: Pharma's new market

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the 2007 recommended immunization schedule in January 2007. For the first time, vaccines recommended for infants and young children and vaccines recommended for older children and adolescents have been divided into separate tables.

The table for older children outlines the recommendations for ages 7 to 18 years, including routine immunization with human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), conjugate meningococcal vaccine (Menactra), and diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine (Boostrix), with catch-up immunizations for hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccines. In addition, reminders that certain high-risk teens should be immunized with pneumococcal vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine, and annual influenza vaccine are included.

COMMENT: In 2001, I attended the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting at the CDC to speak out--on the record--against the proposed mandatory smallpox vacciation. The agenda for the two day meeting included a discussion surrounding the need to make room for the many new vaccines on the "already crowded" pediatric vaccination schedule.

Dr. DA Henderson, best known for his participation in the World Health Organization's Global Smallpox Eradication Campaign, sauntered up to the microphone and suggested that a new schedule should be created specifically for adolescents. He said many more vaccines were coming and ACIP needed to plan ahead. I distinctly recall the words he said: "We need to have a schedule for teens. We will be vaccinating them, as we should..." It was a chilling prediction of the future.

More than twenty new vaccines are under devlopment for teens. If doctors missed the opportunity to vaccinate them early-on, they will be given another chance. This new schedule expands pharma's market share and creates an opportunity for new life-time customers in vaccine-injured teens.

CDC Teen Vaccine Recommendation: