Moving From Treatment to Prevention
Vaccines are fundamentally different from pharmaceutical medicines.
“A vaccine prepares the body for whenever a virus attacks you,” explains Jaap Goudsmit, Chief Scientific Officer, Crucell N.V. “You vaccinate healthy people, whereas drugs are used to treat sick people. The aim of vaccination is to prevent disease.”
It takes more than scientific expertise. As our Pharmaceuticals business grows beyond a treatment model to one that includes prevention with vaccines, an equally important consideration is the ability to make hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine at a price that's affordable for the majority of the globe.
The Crucell facility is one of the largest in the world, capable of making more than 100 million doses per year of pentavalent vaccine.
That's what Crucell, acquired by an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson in February 2011, is working to do with a new, ultramodern manufacturing facility in Incheon, South Korea. One of the largest such facilities in the world, it is capable of making more than 100 million doses per year of pentavalent vaccine, a combination of five vaccines in one: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type b (the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and otitis). The facility makes half of all the pentavalent vaccine used worldwide by UNICEF, the world's largest distributor of childhood vaccines.
Crucell is also working to evaluate possibilities of using vaccines beyond preventing infectious diseases. One area of focus is prevention of diseases of the elderly, such as certain cancers and Alzheimer's disease.
“We dream of a world where there are no more infectious diseases,” says Johan Van Hoof, Managing Director, Crucell. “Or where there are infectious diseases, they're under control.”
Curing Hepatitis C
INCIVO® (telaprevir)*, a new direct-acting antiviral protease inhibitor for the treatment of genotype 1** chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, was approved in European Member States in September 2011. “The arrival of direct-acting antivirals will offer more patients hope for a cure,” says Charles Gore, President, World Hepatitis Alliance.
According to the World Health Organization, about 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. Because it can have serious long-term health consequences—such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplantation—hepatitis C carries a high economic burden for patients and society.
Named one of the top 10 medical innovations of 2011 by the Cleveland Clinic, telaprevir doubles the chances of clearing the virus in half the treatment time compared with prior standard treatments in the majority of HCV genotype 1 patients.
Jim Witek, Global Medical Affairs Leader for INCIVO®, says this product is a new highlight of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies' expanding infectious disease portfolio. “Our R&D in serious infections such as HIV/AIDS, HCV and tuberculosis has allowed us to bring innovative therapies that are helping to redefine and improve treatment outcomes,” he says.
* INCIVO® (telaprevir) was co-developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Tibotec, an affiliate of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The Janssen Companies have the right to commercialize telaprevir in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand under the commercial name INCIVO®.
** The most common genotype in Europe and the U.S.