Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of pharma company Sanofi-Aventis Group, is partnering with the International Vaccine Institute to support the recently launched Dengue Vaccine Initiative.
The two groups aim to raise awareness and move dengue vaccination higher on the global health agenda. Currently, there is no specific treatment available for dengue fever, a virus-based disease spread by mosquitoes. The infectious disease is a threat to nearly half of the world's population and a public health priority in many countries of Latin America and Asia where epidemics occur.
"The fight against dengue requires a strong global commitment from all public health partners," says Olivier Charmeil, senior vice president, vaccines at Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis, in a statement. The company's U.S. headquarters is in Bridgewater, N.J.
There is no cure for the disease, but Sanofi has the world's most clinically advanced vaccine candidate, which entered final clinical testing in Australia in November.
The next step is facilitating discussions among policymakers, with the objective of ensuring that once licensed, the vaccine will be made available to those populations that need it most in a timely manner, Charmeil adds.
The French drugmaker has said in the past that a vaccine against dengue fever could potentially generate sales of more than $1 billion a year, according to Reuters.
The International Vaccine Institute, a Seoul-based organization set up by the United Nations Development Program, announced the launch of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative earlier this month. The effort is collaboration with the Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Johns Hopkins University, and the World Health Organization, to support development of vaccines to control dengue fever.
Of the estimated 220 million people infected annually, two million -- mostly children -- develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), a severe form of the disease. DHF is a leading cause of hospitalization, placing tremendous pressure on strained medical resources and having a heavy economic and societal impact.