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Pharmaceutical companies have fled the vaccine market in droves over the last 40 years. The research and development for vaccines is too expensive and the market too small for drug makers, contrary to the popular image of profit-raking pharmaceutical giants, and this is only worsening.
In 1967, 12 years after the polio vaccine become Page One news around the world, 26 companies were making vaccines. Today there are five. Among the 12 vaccines recommended for infants and children, seven are made by one company. Vaccines given to children over a short timeframe earn much less than "blockbuster" drugs meant to be taken repeatedly over many years, such as statins and heart drugs. Therefore, drug companies can stop making vaccines without any major effect on their bottom lines. In fact, since 1998, shortages have occurred in 9 in 12 vaccines for children.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.