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View Diary: The Next Influenza Pandemic (120 comments)

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  •  right, you are (4.00)
    Making sure contracts (from more than 2 manufacturers) are lined up so that we can be assured speedy and reliable production.  

    However, I think a pandemic of the size we're talking about will alter market fundamentals because of the reactionary nature of this (i.e. prices will be set after people start dying of it) and so this is one of the rare occasions where the government will pony up the dough to make it worthwhile for other pharmicutical manufactures to begin producing this vaccine.  

    The problem remains though that the healthcare system in the country is woefully inadequate for middle/lower income families.  And so the question will be when the vaccine does become available, who will benefit and who will be neglected, and i think we all know that answer.  Hence it is important that the CDC stays on top of their preparation plans and what we should expect of the administration is increased funding for the CDC and improvement in communications between the CDC, FDA, and white house (i.e. Health and Human Services is a cabinet level post, no?)

    So the important thing is to keep this issue visible (increasing the fear among the public) which will hopefully apply pressure for the administration to be prepared for this.  

    Ultimately, we agree: a pandemic won't be the fault of the administration, but the severity and duration of it is in their hands.

    America would have been better off with four years of Ralph Wiggum

    by LeftCoaster on Sun Nov 28, 2004 at 10:25:03 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Except... (none)
      building a facility to produce vaccine takes way longer than 6 months. That 6-month time lag is just how long it takes to ramp up production of a new vaccine in an already-existing facility.

      If the US government waits until there's a deadly pandemic under way to start leaning on manufacturers to build facilities... a lot of people will die who didn't need to, and their deaths will be directly traceable to US government negligent inaction right now.

      Massacre is not a family value.

      by Canadian Reader on Sun Nov 28, 2004 at 12:57:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ummm? (none)
        are you really arguing for the US government to build laboratories and hire staff to be able to prouce this vaccine incase a pandemic hits?

        the idea isn't to lean on manufacturers to build facilities, it would be for them to switch to producing the vaccine when the need came.  this would mean making it worth thier while to temporarily cut back on production of other drugs and utilize excess capacity to produce the vacine.

        to build factories and hire personele to just wait around incase of an outbreak is not a very good use of resources.

        America would have been better off with four 8 years of Ralph Wiggum

        by LeftCoaster on Sun Nov 28, 2004 at 01:29:34 PM PST

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        •  Sorry if I wasn't clear. (4.00)
          I'm pretty sure a vaccine-producing facility isn't interchangeable with a production factory for other drugs.

          There is an annual requirement for flu vaccine, with a guaranteed government market every year, yielding a slender but guaranteed profit, whether there's a pandemic or not. The virus is different every year, so part of the job each year is lab work to identify what is needed this year. But because the profit margin is too low -- not because they've been losing money, but because it's not as madly profitable as Viagra -- manufacturers have been shutting down their facilities.

          And the government has been letting this happen. When a pandemic hits, people will die... only because pharmaceutical companies dropped a modest unglamorous cash-cow seasonal product, and because your government failed to intervene in the public interest.

          If flu vaccine facilities were to be rebuilt, it would be a relatively simple matter to design them with the latent capacity to ramp up production to a higher level in case of an emergency.

          It would be a simple thing for, say, Medicare, which buys a lot of pharmaceuticals including other vaccines, to require a contract for the provision of a certain amount of flu vaccine to be a pre-requisite for a manufacturer to be considered as a Medicare supplier. Or, if that's too complicated, you could just pass a public interest law.

          There are lots of ways to make sure that adequate vaccine manufacturing and bottling capability exists in your country, if your government really wants to put its mind to it.

          Too bad it doesn't...

          Massacre is not a family value.

          by Canadian Reader on Sun Nov 28, 2004 at 03:42:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  one other thing (none)
            If there are no vaccine manufacturers in this country, and there ever WAS a real epidemic of flu or anything else that needed a vaccine, why on EARTH would those countries that DO have vaccine facilities produce some for US? They'll need it for their own populations.

            Most CIVILIZED countries don't let their own people die so a few fat cats can make more money. The government (of the people, for the people, at least in some places) won't allow it.

            Thinking further along those lines, it's a bit hard to field an army that will attack those with the vaccine if a large chunk of the population is deathly ill and the other country is in pretty good shape, and you have to cross oceans to get to them.

            There are businesses that are just necessary for national security. A country as rich as ours should be able to feed, clothe and protect its people without outsourcing most of the production.  

          •  I don't think that's correct (none)
            My mom worked for Xoma which built a factory years in advance of an actual drug to produce, my impression was that it was a general purpose facility. Clearly you need specialized equipment but it's possible that same equipment might be used for multiple things.

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