Friday, July 28, 2006

Is this the end of Big Tobacco?

The Chronicle printed an AP story today about an experimental nicotine vaccine. This vaccine so far has proven safe and effective in testing, but the testing is not over. It appears to still be in Phase II trials. This vaccine has been granted fast-track status by the FDA and the current trial includes 300 patients.

To quote from their site:

Tobacco use is the single leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for more than 440,000 deaths each year.(1) According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 49 million adults and 6 million teenagers in the U.S. smoke, triggering an estimated $75.5 billion in excess medical costs and another $81.9 billion in mortality-related productivity losses each year.(1) Despite widespread knowledge of tobacco's dangerous health effects, smoking continues to pose a serious public health threat as the number of teenage smokers increases and others are unable to quit due, in large part, to tobacco's addictive properties. According to the CDC, an estimated 70 percent (32.2 million) of smokers want to quit, but only 2.5 percent (1.2 million) per year succeed in quitting permanently.(2)

NicVAX is being developed to help the millions of patients in the U.S. and potentially billions worldwide who are addicted to tobacco products, or are at risk of becoming addicted.

1. MMWR - Annual Smoking - Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost and Economic Costs - United States 1995-1999, April 12,2002/Vol.51/No.14

2. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS). Management of Nicotine addiction Fact Sheet.


Now that is not the whole story here. A little over half a million kids (545,000) a year start smoking and a third of them will die from it from one cause or another. This is a MASSIVE public health crisis. This vaccine might be the answer. What if all kids under the age of 12 were vaccinated against Nicotine? Suppose it was 80% effective, that means that the number of new smokers per year would drop to around over 109,000. THAT is a massive impact on the cost of healthcare. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Full disclosure: After reading and writing about this, I researched the company and decided a stock purchase was in order. This is in no way a recommendation to do the same. You should come to your own conclusions. As the purchase did not occur until after reading and writing about this, there was no ownership bias coloring my writing.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

Think they will come up with a vaccine for alcohol? If so, will anyone actually use it?

July 31, 2006 4:53 PM  
Anonymous chris Muir said...

Damn,I got Sam as a smoker...

August 07, 2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Welcome Chris, I'm very honored to know you're lurking...=D

Hey, you never know, having Sam quit at some point might be pretty good entertainment....

August 07, 2006 8:09 PM  

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