To provide an overview of supply and demand issues in the vaccine industry and the policy options that have been implemented to resolve these issues.
Medline, Policy File, and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts were searched to locate academic journal articles. Other sources reviewed included texts on the topics of vaccine history and policy, government agency reports, and reports from independent think tanks. Keywords included vaccines, immunizations, supply, demand, and policy.
Search criteria were limited to English language and human studies. Articles pertaining to vaccine demand, supply, and public policy were selected and reviewed for inclusion.
By the authors.
Vaccines are biologic medications, therefore making their development and production more difficult and costly compared with “small-molecule” drugs. Research and development costs for vaccines can exceed $800 million, and development may require 10 years or more. Strict manufacturing regulations and facility upgrades add to these costs. Policy options to increase and stabilize the supply of vaccines include those aimed at increasing supply, such as government subsidies for basic vaccine research, liability protection for manufacturers, and fast-track approval for new vaccines. Options to increase vaccine demand include advance purchase commitments, government stockpiles, and government financing for select populations.
High development costs and multiple barriers to entry have led to a decline in the number of vaccine manufacturers. Although a number of vaccine policies have met with mixed success in increasing the supply of and demand for vaccines, a variety of concerns remain, including developing vaccines for complex pathogens and increasing immunization rates with available vaccines. New policy innovations such as advance market commitments and Medicare Part D vaccine coverage have been implemented and may aid in resolving some of the problems in the vaccine industry.