Lyme disease is a devastating disease that can rob an individual of their life dreams. Living with the symptoms of lyme disease would be unbearable at times. So why doesn’t a vaccine for the well known disease exist yet? Lyme was first discovered in 1975, so there has been plenty of time for research and development. Will there ever be a lyme disease vaccine? Will there ever be a way to cure an infected individual from lyme disease? Victims of the disease are located all over the world. Is there at least an effort being made to develop a vaccine for lyme disease? Unfortunately, the answer is probably “no.”

Lyme disease was discovered in 1975, and first described in medical journals in 1977. Lyme disease used to be referred to as “lyme arthritis.” Since the 1970s incidents of lyme infection have been growing substantially. Apparently, each year sees an additional twenty thousand cases of lyme disease. However, experts in the medical field doubt this figure, and believe that the real rate of infection is at least three times greater than the one mentioned. In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed lyme disease as the seventh most common notifiable disease in the United States. Other diseases that were ranked higher included conditions such as chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, syphilis, and salmonellosis.

The first vaccine for lyme disease was developed by SmithKline Beecham, which is now known as GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine was found to be seventy eight percent effective, but the method of administering the vaccine was a bit odd. The vaccine would stimulate human antibodies that attacked the bacteria located in the tick’s gut while it fed on the human host. The antibodies would destroy the tick bacteria before the bacteria entered the human host’s bloodstream.

The vaccine was named LYMERix, and it was licensed by SmithKline Beecham in 1998. However, the pharmaceutical giant decided to withdraw the vaccine from the market in 2002. Not only that, but another well known foreign pharmaceutical company chose not to duplicate the vaccine for themselves, despite having completed all testing on the vaccine. The decision to withdraw the long awaited vaccine, understandably, shocked the world. Humanity will most likely never see another lyme disease vaccine on the market again.

Why do you think the drug company withdrew the lyme vaccine? Do you think the decision was influenced by low profits?


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