Vaccine Innovation Yields New Products and Processes - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Vaccine Innovation Yields New Products and Processes
Vaccine development is benefiting from manufacturing advances and support for global health.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 37, Issue 3, pp. 22-24

Analytical advances

Continued progress involves addressing difficult vaccine quality and safety issues, as discussed at the January 2013 WCBP symposium in Washington, DC, sponsored by CASSS and FDA. Scientists noted the need to "solve the riddle" of how to make these complex products at moderate cost using modern biotechnology. This progress involves defining the range of acceptable variability in characterizing these inherently heterogeneous products, including release and stability data that reflect both process/analytical capability and biological suitability of the final product. Participants in a WCBP vaccine workshop further explored issues in achieving manufacturing control and in defining critical attributes for newer vaccines. There was discussion about strategies for designing appropriate potency assays, for setting release and stability specifics, and for justifying a range of variability with available clinical data. Concerns that some newer, highly purified vaccines may appear less efficacious than older, heterogeneous products illustrate a need for clear potency assays.

The importance of harmonization in national vaccine regulatory policies was emphasized at the December 2012 PDA/FDA vaccine conference in Bethesda, MD, which also examined issues related to expanding global access to effective vaccines. Leading vaccine makers expressed frustration with frequently changing standards, data requirements, approval processes, and policy interpretations by regulatory authorities around the world. Manufacturers would like to see a functional "mutual recognition" process for vaccine market approvals, or perhaps a global body that reviews standardized data for all markets. The vaccine industry is working closely with the world health community to greatly expand access to crucial vaccines for millions of children around the world, a goal that would benefit from regulatory processes able to identify products that do and don't meet quality standards, as well as an international process for identifying and monitoring vaccine safety problems.

Further research also is needed to address still prevalent "anti-vaccine" fears held by many parents and patients. A report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in January 2013 confirmed the safety and benefits of the US childhood immunization schedule and advised against moves by parents to stretch out or delay childhood vaccination (1). Even so, immunization rates in most states fall below the desired 95% level and are even worse in Britain and many other countries. Manufacturers need to join with the health community to support research on still-prevalent fears about vaccination and to bolster evidence on the critical benefits of immunization.

Jill Wechsler is Pharmaceutical Technology's Washington editor, tel. 301.656.4634,
. Read Jill's blogs at http://PharmTech.com/wechsler

Reference

1. IOM, "The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence and Future Studies," (Jan. 16, 2013), http://www.nap.edu/, accessed Feb. 12, 2013.


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