With the 15th World Vaccine Congress on 7 – 9 April in Washington DC only just over a one month away, I conducted an interview to one of our key speakers, Dr Guillaume Leroy, Vice President Dengue Vaccine at Sanofi Pasteur to give you further insight into his exciting talk as well as his top priority vaccine challenges he hopes to discuss.
Dr Guillaume Leroy leads the Dengue team and is currently focusing on an equitable access approach to the vaccine by working with an extensive network of external collaborations. With partners, Dr Leroy is consolidating all activities and resources towards a common goal of making Dengue the next vaccine-preventable disease. Dr Leroy is the best representative to illustrate Sanofi’s vision and engagement plan for successfully executing the vaccine to Dengue-stricken areas.
Q: Where do you see the vaccine industry heading in the next few years?
Vaccine developers will need to position themselves credibly as both reliable suppliers, as well as partners in the optimal delivery of vaccinations in order to secure best healthcare outcomes. This will require that leading vaccine companies work hard to market vaccines as part of holistic public health solutions rather than as commodities. In order to do so, we will have find novel mechanisms for incentivizing governments to purchase vaccines as part of more comprehensive immunization programs and to partner with other public health entities to secure in-country infrastructure and incorporate vaccines into long-term disease prevention initiatives aimed at impacting the public health burden of disease.
Scientific innovation in our industry will also have to be targeted towards addressing unmet medical needs of disenfranchised populations, where cold-chain and other common restrictions on vaccine delivery are a major obstacle. From an affordability standpoint, our industry must continue to support GAVI and other access mechanisms for poorer countries, while also developing new models that encourage sustainable private investment into effective public health interventions like vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Today, many of these countries are endemic for diseases, like dengue, that are not a public sector priority for the developed world and, therefore, require innovative pricing and affordability models that do not require rich countries to get first access in order to subsidize costs but rather can effectively support local development and launch vaccines first to the population at most risk.
Q: How is your area of vaccine development progressing right now and why is Sanofi Pasteur concentrating on this?
Take our dengue vaccine candidate as a prime example of the new inroads that SP is trying to make in the vaccine industry. To my last point, we have developed and plan to launch the vaccine, upon approval, for at-risk populations first. During the 20-year R&D process, we were always focused on ensuring that the vaccine candidate would be effective in endemic populations and we continue to develop our pipeline vaccines in this way. However, as dengue is not endemic in developed parts of the world to any great extent, we also have to develop an approach to the vaccine launch that secures the company’s ROI, by provided evidence-based arguments to convince endemic countries that long-term investment in the vaccine makes sense from a cost-effectiveness and public health impact perspective.
Q: What are the most difficult challenges you are facing?
Vaccine development for the developing world is still very much focused on outbreak prevention rather than long-term sustainable investment. Outbreaks get the media coverage, resources are mobilized to find ‘quick fixes’ to solve these problems in an exciting and popular way that makes for good press. But this is not how most of vaccine development works…it takes time and many of these endemic diseases like ebola and dengue have complex virology, resistant to quick fixes that require long-term and local R&D investment to ensure safety and efficacy in at-risk populations. This local investment also has the added value of building the in-country health care expertise, local knowledge and infrastructure needed to delivery vaccines once they become available.
On a more global level, vaccine manufacturing and acceptance remain tricky issues. Vaccine production is a sensitive business that can often lead to gaps in supply due to quality regulations and other manufacturing problems. Vaccine opponents also remain a constant issue as evidenced in recent Disney outbreak of measles, so better education about the public health value and safe history of vaccine use is needed and we need credible partners to take up this case to support the industry, which is often viewed as a less credible source of information on the benefit/risk of vaccines.
Q5: How does aspects of your talk or talks of peers address these issues?
I am pleased to have been invited to talk as it is a clear recognition of the importance of the dengue vaccine development to the challenge of addressing unmet medical needs in the developing world in a sustainable way. I am looking forward to interacting with my peers on the evolving vaccine environment and share the lessons learnt during the course of development of the dengue vaccine requiring strong science, innovation and a commitment on the side of the global and national public health and health policy authorities to facilitate access to the vaccine upon approval.
Speaking at the Emerging and Re-emerging diseases conference (as part of the 15th World Vaccine Congress taking place on April 7 – 9, Washington DC), Dr Leroy will cover Sanofi’s rationale with delving into the emerging diseases market, addressing the dengue burden to have a public health impact, Phase III efficacy results and clinical platform as well as exploring unique collaborations to successfully execute the vaccine. Meet Dr Leroy and find out more.