Vaccines sometimes work wonderfully in a modern laboratory with great facilities and healthy patients (or parents of patients) who can follow all directions, but.....
Does it work in places with no modern health-care facilities?
Does it work in places with no electricity or sporadic power?
Does it work without refrigeration (see electricity above)?
Does it work in places without clean water?
Does it work if the dosing regime is complex, perhaps requiring numerous returns visits to clinics that are many miles away on foot?
Does it work when many of those things conspire to make patients less healthy?
All of those are the challenges for vaccine developers and the people who earnestly try to deliver good medicine in difficult environments.
And often those two groups don't see costs in the same way.
To that end - and to build its pharmaceutical business in the growing but increasingly complex and competitive Indian market - drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said it struck a deal with India's Biological E Ltd., to develop a six-in-one drug to combat several ailments, including polio, in developing nations.
GSK is based in London, but has several facilities in and around Philadelphia.
The idea of this vaccine is to combine GSK's injectable polio vaccine and Biological E's pentavalent vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (whole cell pertussis), hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B. This project is just starting, so any success will be years away, following testing.
As Bloomberg's Ketaki Gokhale noted in a story, GSK faces competition from Paris-based Sanofi in the market for injectable polio vaccine. Also the Serum Institute of India Ltd., is trying to increase its share of the market in developing countries.
According to a World Health Organization report published in October, 2012, India "stopped" polio by January 2011, leaving Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria as the only countries were it was still endemic. A link to the WHO fact sheet is here.
"We are delighted to be working with Biological E., an established company in the global vaccine market," GSK president of vaccines, Christophe Weber, said in a statement. "This agreement is fully aligned to GSK's vision of providing high quality vaccines to those in need and by leveraging Biological E's strengths, this particular vaccine has the potential to be play a significant role in the fight against polio."