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Call for GSK and Pfizer to reduce vaccine price

MSF campaigns to lower cost of pneumococcal shot to $5 per child in developing countries

Vaccination campaign, MSF

Vaccination campaign in Guinea | Photo by Ikram N'gadi/MSF

Two leading pharma companies are facing a campaign to reduce the cost of their vaccines to protect against pneumococcal infections, which kill around one million children a year.

The healthcare charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is demanding that Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) cut the price of their respective pneumococcal vaccines to $5 per child in developing nations in order to improve access to immunisation.

MSF's call to action is a response to its new report on vaccines pricing The Right Shot: Bringing Down Barriers to Affordable and Adapted Vaccines, which is released to coincide with the Reach Every Child conference that will bring leading vaccine donors together in Berlin next week.

In the report MSF states that the introduction of new vaccines, including those against pneumococcal diseases, has meant the cost to fully immunise a child has increased dramatically in the past 14 years.

In 2001 it cost $0.67 to immunise a child against six diseases (tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis) while in 2014 it costs $32.09–45.59 to immunise a child against 12 diseases.

A major proportion of this increased spend is going towards pneumococcal vaccines, according to MSF, which claims that these vaccines account for 45% of the total cost to vaccinate a child today in the poorest countries.

The two leading vaccines in this area are Pfizer's Prevenar 13 and GSK's Synflorix, both of which are supplied to developing nations at a discount via the GAVI Alliance, a global organisation set up to improve access to immunisation.

However, donor support for many countries via the GAVI Alliance is set to end next year and MSF is calling on GSK and Pfizer to reduce the price of the vaccines which have collectively made more than $19bn in global sales since launch.

Rohit Malpani, director of policy and analysis for MSF's Access Campaign, said: “We think it's time for GSK and Pfizer to do their part to make vaccines more affordable for countries in the long term, because the discounts the companies are offering today are just not good enough.”

The price MSF has in mind is $5 per child, halving the $10 per child price that many countries will face once donor support is gone.

MSF also pointed out that it the vaccines cost more in some middle-income countries that don't have access to donor support, such as Morocco ($63.70) and Tunisia ($67.30), than in developed nations such as France ($58.40).

Kate Elder, vaccines policy adviser for MSF's Access Campaign, called for pharma companies to do more.

“We need to put public health before profit—life-saving vaccines for children shouldn't be big business in poor countries,” she said.

“In one week, donors will gather in Berlin to pledge more money for vaccination, so we're asking GSK and Pfizer to hurry up and cut the price of the pneumococcal vaccine before then.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

20th January 2015

From: Sales, Healthcare

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