The current structural conditions of the U.S. flu vaccine industry consist of five primary components. The first is research and development of the vaccine itself. Over 100 million Americans are considered at-risk candidates for a flu vaccine, and pharmaceutical companies must constantly develop effective treatments to combat the new strains that present each year. After a vaccine is developed, it must then be approved by the FDA. This approval process occurs only after numerous clinical trials and takes years to obtain; of course, manufacturers are free to begin planning production in anticipation of approval, but are not permitted to distribute the drug to the public until it is approved. Once an effective remedy is permitted by governmental authorities, it must then be manufactured in sufficient quantities to meet the demands of the market. In recent years, there have been shortages of flu vaccines as more Americans have sought prophylactic treatment and meeting this demand is a structural challenge. Once the product is made, it must be stored and distributed properly. These vaccines have to be refrigerated to preserve their efficacy and shelf life, and this is a major structural consideration for manufacturers as they manufacture and deliver the product to the medical professionals who administer the drug. Finally, the primary method of administering the vaccine is through injection. This means that the vaccine is provided to the public through healthcare professionals.
The U.S. flu industry is an attractive market due to two key factors; the size of the market and the ease of payment. The flu is a widespread disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu each year, and that 36,0000 individuals die from complications related to it (Calkins 2004: 1). This creates a large market for an effective remedy. Further, the vaccine has usually been accepted by insurance companies as a necessary precaution for their insured. Accordingly, even though the product is not expensive by medical standards, many who receive the treatment do not pay for it out of their own pocket. Having a vital product that appeals to a large market, and one that is paid for by institutional purchasers, makes the industry's future prospects very bright.
With the advent of FluMist, the structural conditions of the industry are poised to change. As discussed further in this paper, FluMist provides a technological breakthrough by using a live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), and will allow a nasal administration instead of the traditional injection (Calkins 2004: 2). The successful marketing and widespread adoption of the product will impact the storage and administration aspects of the industry's structure dramatically.
FluMist: Critical Evaluation
The competitive position of FluMist is potentially significant, though it will have to be marketed appropriately to maximize that potential. While there are some hurdles that will have to be overcome, FluMist is truly a revolutionary