Antidote: Vaccine manufacturers

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How come vaccine manufacturers take so much heat about flu vaccines? They are blamed for using outdated technologies, delay in shipments and contaminated batches. They are even targeted by fear mongers without a shred of evidence to show harm.

The reason they are so targeted is because the American public is nervous about disease, and nervous about anything we put into our bodies to protect against it. And while we are nervous, we may forget to stop criticizing long enough to sing the praises of a manufacturer when a groundbreaking new vaccine comes along. Sanofi-Aventis's experimental vaccine against dengue has protected healthy volunteers against all four strains of the virus in a new study. This is very exciting news when you consider that dengue affects 40% of the world's population, causes 50 million infections a year and is now found in 28 states in the US.

Unfortunately, not only are we not appreciative of the work that vaccine makers do, we are also not concerned enough about massive killers in other countries. These stories too often slip past the media radar, or receive just the slightest attention.

But luckily for those who are at risk, SA is marching onward, constructing a plant in France to produce the vaccine at a cost of $508 million. More work needs to be done with clinical trials before SA can determine if this vaccine is safe and effective enough to go into large-scale production. It is time for the world to applaud a drug company's effort. If a manufacturer could win a Nobel, this might be the time.

Marc Siegel, MD, is an internist and professor of medicine at New York University and the author of False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear
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