Actual revenues earned on H1N1 ‘swine flu’ vaccines may not have reached the levels predicted by some optimistic industry executives and analysts last year, but the vaccines boosted the bottom line of several pharmaceutical companies in an otherwise tough year, according to healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information. Makers of H1N1 vaccines reported sales of $3.3 billion in 2009, according to company reports reviewed for its title, “H1N1 ‘Swine Flu’ Vaccine Market Review.” Kalorama believes the contracting, production and distribution of this vaccine will be a model for future pandemic vaccines.
According to the report, there was no clear model to follow for the H1N1 vaccine, as marketing it in the traditional sense based on consumer need for the vaccine was not required. Companies were innovative. Novartis capitalized on its knowledge of pandemic flu vaccines to become first to market with a vaccine and earned the largest US contract. Glaxo performed better in the international market. For CSL, it was home field advantage, as the government of Australia, where the firm is located, ordered a dose for every person in that country. For Astra Zeneca, a unique delivery method earned them market share.
“It was a unique product and each company adopted a different strategy,” said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. “For instance, Astra Zeneca didn’t earn the revenue of the others, but the H1N1 pandemic gave them an important showcase for intranasal delivery. Response to the Flu Mist product for the seasonal flu vaccine had been slow, but it was broadly utilized for H1N1 shots, and consumers and providers are now more comfortable with the intranasal option.”
The report details the challenges of delivering a recently approved vaccine, which required companies to respond with historic efforts. Companies hired temporary workers, pulled staff from other projects and constructed unique procurement and distribution models to produce and distribute the vaccine in a five month time frame last year. Most H1N1 vaccines are produced from chicken eggs, setting off a race to secure enough eggs from suppliers. Syringes were also a logistical challenge. Delays led to supply problems at the time the vaccine was publicized, and challenges in dealing with overstocks and negative publicity, which are discussed in the report.
The types of revenues earned by these companies are not likely to recur, according to the report. There will only be a separate H1N1 vaccine market to speak of for one year, as FDA and WHO recommendations are to add the H1N1 strain into this year’s seasonal flu, since it is likely to be a common strain in the upcoming flu season.
“Most companies have been careful to warn investors that H1N1 revenues are a one-time event,” Carlson said. “We expect a quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1’s market impact will be seen in the increase in influenza vaccine sales over past seasons.”
In its report, “H1N1 ‘Swine Flu’ Vaccine Market Review,” Kalorama conducts an assessment of the swine flu’s impact, looks at the performance of vaccine makers last year, looks at trends in the industry and among government customers, and makes predictions about future pandemic vaccines. The report can be found at: http://www.kaloramainformation.com/redirect.asp?progid=79066&productid=2651343.