The drug approval process is infamous for its complexity and the length of time it takes. But as complicated as standard drugs are to develop, biologics—such as vaccines—are more complicated.
On average, vaccines take about 10 to 15 years to develop, compared to the average six to seven years for a standard drug. In addition to the longer development period, vaccines also have a lower success rate—fewer than 10% of vaccine candidates ever reach the market, compared to about a 12% success rate for drug candidates overall.
That long lead time and high failure rate means that a large number of needed vaccines are still missing from healthcare’s armamentarium.
One study from the Duke Global Health Institute’s Center for Policy Impact in Global Health forecasts a bleak future for vaccines. Analyzing more than 500 vaccine candidates for 35 neglected diseases in the pipeline, the study found the chances of efficacious vaccines gaining approval over the next five years is “unlikely.” The study concluded that there is a significant gap in funding.
However, not all the pipeline news is bleak. From improved flu vaccines to the first C. diff (Clostridioides difficile—until recently called Clostridium difficile) vaccines, there are many exciting recent and upcoming developments in vaccines.
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