They Aren’t Off-Limits Anymore: Vaccine Peddlers Seek New Revenue Stream, Pregnant Women
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Long considered to be off-limits to vaccine makers, pregnant women are finding themselves increasingly targeted by vaccine makers eager to peddle their products to a potential new revenue stream.
Even supposedly independent researchers are cynically eyeing the use of words and marketing as potential pitfalls to selling the drugs to pregnant women.
“It took me awhile to figure out what the problem was,” said Carol Baker of Baylor College of Medicine in an interview with Bloomberg. “The problem was the word ‘pregnancy.’”
But for companies like GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novavax Inc. and Pfizer, that word is no longer a taboo. They have teams looking at selling the supposed baby-protecting vaccines for expectant mothers, thinking it could mean big business.
Among the inoculations they are working on are to combat group B strep and respiratory syncytial virus, which infects newborns’ lungs and breathing passages. They’re hopeful that the boosters could become a routine part of pregnancy.
Indeed, if one couldn’t already guess as to the vaccine-makers true motives, despite all their feel-good talk of protecting babies against disease, one need look no further than the words of Moncef Slaoui, the outgoing chairman of Glaxo’s vaccines division, who is on the record as saying that the market for vaccines for pregnant mothers could ultimately be as big as the pediatric one.
Big Pharma seems to have spotted an opening for expanding its profits in this way in the wake of the 2009 swine flu scare, in which public health officials urged vaccination for pregnant women. Later, during more recent whooping cough outbreaks, expectant mothers have been seen to be more open to receiving tetanus-diptheria-pertussis shots.
For their part, the Centers for Disease Control–long known to be a de facto marketing arm for Big Pharma–couldn’t be more pleased at its efforts to change the way people think about giving potentially dangerous vaccinations to pregnant women.
“We really had a sea change in the U.S. in terms of pregnant women getting the flu vaccine,” said Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC.
Keep in mind, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has never approved a vaccine aimed at safeguarding babies before birth. But when you hear their views on the subject, the agency tasked with protecting Americans from unsafe foods and drugs sounds more like a cheerleader for Big Pharma than a regulatory agency.
“We are open to discussing alternative trial designs and alternative endpoints,” says Marion Gruber, director of the USDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review.
So that’s that, then. Prepare for the normalization of pregnant women getting vaccines “to protect their unborn children–and not incidentally, open up a whole new revenue stream for Big Pharma.
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