Drug makers fight infectious diseases with 400 drugs in pipeline

BOSTON —Humanity has come a long way since the days when people thought sickness came from an assault by evil spirits. But though many infectious diseases continue to have no prevention, treatment or cure—9.5 million people around the world die every year from infectious diseases—that number is dwindling.

According to a report released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, nearly 400 drugs and vaccines—145 vaccines total—for infectious diseases are in various stages of clinical development or under review by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Infectious diseases continue to cause great human suffering, and the effort to conquer them is one of the greatest human endeavors,” PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani stated. “Many once-deadly diseases have been nearly wiped out or are effectively controlled thanks to medical progress, but more needs to be done.”

The problem is particularly acute in developing countries. Six medicines and five vaccines are under development for malaria, which, according to PhRMA, takes the life of a child in Africa every 45 seconds. But infectious diseases affect many in developed countries also. Eighteen drugs and vaccines are under development to treat or prevent Staphylococcus infections, which can cause the life-threatening illness known as sepsis when they enter the bloodstream, while one strain, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, infects some 2 million people in the United States every year.

Of note, two companies—San Diego-based Vical, working with the Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Md., and Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based GenPhar—are developing vaccines for the Ebola virus, one of the most dangerous viruses in the world. GenPhar also is developing a vaccine for Marburg virus, a less virulent relative of Ebola. Meanwhile, high school and college students may be pleased to find that GlaxoSmithKline has a vaccine for mononucleosis resulting from the Epstein-Barr virus in mid-stage clinical trials. Four vaccines also are in the works for hepatitis C.

Vaccines in phase 3 or awaiting FDA approval
VaccineCompaniesIndicationPhase
FluBlokProtein SciencesInfluenza virus infections in adults and childrenApplied for approval
HeplisaDynavaxHepatitis B3
HexaximSanofi PasteurDiphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B3
ImojevSanofi Pasteur, AcambisJapanese encephalitis3
IxiaroIntercell, Novartis VaccinesJapanese encephalitis3
MenHibrixGlaxoSmithKlineNeisseria meningitidis groups C and Y, Haemophilus influenzae type BApplied for approval
MenveoNovartis VaccinesMeningococcal group A, C, Y and W-135Applied for approval
MosquirixGlaxoSmithKlineMalaria3
OptafluNovartis VaccinesInfluenza virus infectionsApplied for approval
Prevnar 13 adultPfizerPrevention of pneumococcal infection in the elderly3
SimplirixGlaxoSmithKlineHerpes simplex virus3
Source: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

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