Merck & Co announced on Wednesday that it will be ramping up production on measles vaccines. The announcement is a response to the constant media coverage over measles outbreaks around the world. As of the end of April, the CDC is reporting 704 measles cases nationwide.
Merck is the lone producer of the now highly sought after measles vaccine. It stands to reason that the company is likely to cash in on recent media hysteria.
“Despite what we’ve seen as a huge uptick in the number of cases … the demand side of the equation hasn’t been outstripping our underlying capacity,” Merck Chief Marketing Officer Mike Nally said, per CNBC.
The CDC claims that most measles cases have occurred in children who haven’t received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Merck said last Tuesday that MMR and chickenpox vaccine sales are up 10% over the first quarter. That totals out at $343 million in revenue. Merck says that most of the sales are from private clinics. For Merck, this is a big benefit because private clinics pay more for vaccines than the government.
Nally says that they are prepared to increase supply as demand rises.
“As measles outbreaks have occurred in different parts of the world over the last few decades, we’ve always been able to surge capacity, and we feel confident about our ability to do so in the U.S,” he said.
Nally also says that the CDC has yet to ramp up its orders. The CDC runs a Vaccines for Children program.