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Sci Context. 2011 Mar;24(1):107-25.

Dilemmas of a vitalizing vaccine market: lessons from the MMR vaccine/autism debate.

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  • 1University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


A number of issues related to vaccines and vaccinations in society are discussed in this paper. Our purpose is to merge an analysis of some recent changes in the vaccine market with social science research on the relationship between citizens and authorities. The article has two empirical parts. The first shows how the vaccine market, which for many years has had immense financial problems, nowadays seems to becoming economically vitalized, mostly due to the production of new and profitable vaccines. However prosperous the future may appear, certain reactions from the public regarding vaccination initiatives offer insight into inherent problems of vaccine policies in many Western countries. In the second part of the article, these problems are exemplified with the recent controversy over the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. We conclude that in spite of the improving profit-margins, the vaccine market remains vulnerable and insecure. Vaccines are permeated by society, even more so than pharmaceutics that are used to cure or alleviate illnesses. Radical changes in financial conditions with promises of a more profitable market will not, we argue, solve other even more fundamental problems.

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