Pfizer, Merck eval­u­at­ing tech for Zika vac­cine

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

NEW YORK: Pfizer Inc, John­son and John­son and Merck & Co Inc said they were eval­u­at­ing their tech­nolo­gies or ex­ist­ing vac­cines for their po­ten­tial to com­bat Zika, a rapidly spread­ing mos­quito-borne dis­ease linked to birth de­fects. A num­ber of drug de­vel­op­ers and univer­si­ties are at­tempt­ing to pro­duce a vac­cine for Zika, which the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) has de­clared an in­ter­na­tional health emer­gency. But sci­en­tists and ex­perts have said pro­duc­ing a safe and ef­fec­tive vac­cine will take time. "Pfizer is cur­rently an­a­lyz­ing its ex­ist­ing vac­cines port­fo­lio in re­sponse to the Zika out­break to see where we might be able to play a role," Pfizer spokes­woman Sharon Castillo told Reuters in an email. Ja­pan's Takeda Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Co Ltd (4502.T) said on Wed­nes­day it had cre­ated a team to in­ves­ti­gate how it might help make a vac­cine, a day af­ter Sanofi SA (SASY.PA) said it would launch a Zika vac­cine pro­gram. Mean­while, the first known case of virus trans­mis­sion in the United States was re­ported in Texas on Tues­day by lo­cal health of­fi­cials. Paul Stof­fels, chief sci­en­tific of­fi­cer at John­son and John­son's Janssen unit, said the com­pany is cur­rently eval­u­at­ing if any of its avail­able tech­nolo­gies could be di­rected to ad­dress Zika. "At this stage, it is pre­ma­ture to say how long this might take or spec­u­late on the out­come," Stof­fels told Reuters in an email.

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