Sanofi SA (NYSE:SNY) dengue fever vaccine and appropriately named Dengvaxia has received the seal of approval for marketing in Costa Rica. That development brings to five the number of countries that have cleared the vaccine for use for their citizens to protect them against dengue virus. Sanofi is eyeing more markets with a special focus on Latin America and Southeast Asia where dengue is endemic.
In Costa Rica, Dengvaxia has been approved for vaccination of citizens aged between nine and 45 years. It is said that the main reason the authorities in Costa Rica favored the drug is that it covers the four types of dengue virus that are common in the country.
The incidence of dengue has increased in Costa Rica in recent months. Jorge Martinez, a member of the Costa Rican society of pediatricians, recently revealed that at least 7,711 cases of dengue infections had been registered in the country so far in 2016. That signals over a 500% increase in the rate of infection compared to the same period in 2015.
Costa Rica joins the ranks of Mexico, Brazil and El Salvador that have also approved Sanofi’s Dengvaxia. But none of these countries have launched public vaccination campaigns against dengue. However, Sanofi is optimistic that Dengvaxia will be used in the Latin American countries when they launch their public campaign in the coming months.
However, in the Philippines, the government has already kicked off the campaign to vaccinate students against dengue. The first round of the public vaccination campaign is expected to cover one million students in some 6,000 public schools. The second round is expected to be broader and it should see the coverage if 3 million students.
Sanofi is targeting Latin America and Southeast Asia as prime markets for its dengue vaccine. Countries in these regions tend to have higher incidences of dengue. The fact that governments in these regions are struggling to lower public health costs also suggests that they are likely to be more receptive to Dengvaxia given that the drug already enjoys endorsement from the World Health Organization.