In the stop-and-go rush of modern life, it's easy to overlook the wondrous displays of constancy and rhythm that nature puts before us: Sunrises. The tides. Flu season.
While the last of these examples may seem less than awe-inspiring, the last flu season provided plenty of excitement for investors. Chiron
For the 2005-2006 season, many of the same players are back. Sanofi-Aventis
But these companies may not dominate the field for long. Chiron's stumble last year evidently attracted new competitors hoping to capitalize on that company's mistake. The most recent example is GlaxoSmithKline
Ultimately, multiple suppliers may be good for the U.S. vaccine supply, but not so great for individual companies. The vaccine business is notoriously tricky. Regulatory compliance is a challenge, plants are expensive to maintain, and the single-use nature of the product means that its profits are lower than those of other medicines requiring prolonged and repeated use. Given the nature of the business, respectable returns are predicated on high volumes. If ID Biomedical enters the market next year as planned, all of the flu vaccine market's participants may find the segment too crowded for comfort.
Give this healthy selection of pharmaceutical Foolishness a shot:
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.