Vaccines may not be as sexy as cures for major diseases, but they're still big business for big pharma.
On Monday, Novartis
Novartis will take over the development of the vaccine next year when it enters phase 2 trials. At the end of that, Novartis will have an option to buy 4 million shares in AlphaVax. Not a big surprise that the company threw in the option, given its propensity to own parts of companies -- Roche and Alcon
The $20 million up front seems like a cheap bet for Novartis, given that the potential for vaccines is pretty large. Wyeth's
While the risk of failure for vaccines during clinical trials is probably lower than that of drugs that treat diseases, vaccines aren't immune to failure. Last week, for instance, Merck
Vaccines are unsung heroes of pharmaceutical companies. They contribute nicely to the revenue stream: Novartis' vaccines and diagnostic business posted a 20% year-over-year increase in revenue to $1.27 billion during the first nine months of the year, for instance. But, because they prevent diseases rather than cure them, vaccines aren't as sexy and don't garner as much attention as they probably should. It might be time for Foolish investors to take a second look.