We just heard another govt-sponsored radio ad [a trend BTW that worries us, but that's a subject for another post] urging people to get “vaccinated” for the flu. The ad, while referring many times to vaccine, vaccination and flu, never said “flu shots.”
We know that declining compliance has resulted in evermore frantic public health advisories to get protection from the many flu viruses floating around. We’re not going to take a position on whether to get a flu shot, but the ad caught our ear with its avoidance of the word “shots.” Did the Ad Council do a focus group and find out that IFO isn’t the only person who cringes at the word “shots?”
Maybe. However, there may be investment opportunities to explore, since this is a worldwide phenomenon. There are dozens of drug development companies floating around all over the U.S. E.g. Novartis (NYSE:NVS) has its Optaflu going.
Here are just a few — these are companies pursuing a universal flu vaccine:
Companies pursuing the vaccine, according to an excellent Wikipedia article, as of 2009 and 2010 include Theraclone, Dynavax Technologies Corporation, VaxInnate, Crucell NV, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals.
Here are some of Wikipedia’s citations:
# ^ Seattle’s Theraclone makes a ‘first step’ on long road to universal flu vaccine. The Seattle Times. Here’s a description of the Seattle-based company, headed by the sad news that their CEO had died suddenly. However, just this Tuesday, the young, venture-funded company signed a $600+ million deal with Pfizer.
# ^ Dynavax Reports Positive Data on Universal Flu Vaccine Candidate. Rita Biotech. Berkeley, Calif.-based Dynavax Technologies Corp (Nasdaq:DVAX), is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that has seen some tough times. The company discovers and develops products to prevent and treat infectious diseases. The Company’s lead product candidate is HEPLISAV, an investigational adult hepatitis B vaccine. For more information visit www.dynavax.com.
# ^ VaxInnate’s Universal Flu Vaccine Candidate Shown Safe and Immunogenic in Phase I Clinical Study. Fierce Biotech. VaxInnate is a privately-held biotechnology company with offices in Cranbury, NJ and New Haven, CT that is working on technology for making flu vaccine boosters and attempting to make a “universal flu vaccine.” For more information, visit www.VaxInnate.com
# ^ Crucell NV is mentioned here. Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) took an 18% stake in the Dutch company in Sept. 29, 2009 with a $440 million share purchase. We US taxpayers gave the Dutch company some money, too – $69 million. And the company is publicly held (NasdaqGS:CRXL) and actually traded. UNICEF also expects to continue obtaining vaccines from Crucell, according to this Reuters article.
# ^ a b “Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Immunizes First Subject In U.S. Influenza DNA Vaccine Clinical Trial”. Reuters. On Jan. 10 this year, the company (ASE:INO) announced publication of a scientific paper highlighting positive preclinical results from Inovio’s DNA vaccine targeting HIV Clade C viruses in the journal Vaccine. BTW, if any readers buy shares in this company, please call IFO immediately. She has a bridge she wants to sell you.