Pharmaceutical Companies Told To Slash Price Of Pneumococcal Disease Vaccine

Sarah Boseley | The Guardian | January 20, 2015

Two giant pharmaceutical companies should lower the price of a new vaccine against pneumococcal disease that is needed by children in developing countries, but is unaffordable for some of their governments, say the volunteer doctors of Médecins sans Frontières (MSF).  In a new report on vaccine pricing, MSF says British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and US giant Pfizer should slash the price of the vaccines to $5 (£3.20) per child in developing countries. At the moment, the two big pharma companies are the sole manufacturers of the pneumococcal vaccine.

The secretive nature of the industry means that prices are not disclosed in all countries, but, where they are known, there is huge variation. Hospitals in Morocco pay nearly $64 and in Tunisia $67, whereas the manufacturer’s price in France is less – at about $58.  “We have an irrational situation where some developing countries like Morocco and Tunisia are paying more for the pneumococcal vaccine than France does,” said Kate Elder, vaccines policy adviser for MSF’s Access Campaign. “Because of the astronomical cost of new vaccines, many governments are facing tough choices about which deadly diseases they can afford to protect their children against.”

MSF says the pneumococcal vaccine is a big contributor to the soaring cost of vaccinating a child in the poorest countries – it accounts for 45% of the total. GSK and Pfizer have collectively reported more than $19bn in global sales of the vaccine since it launched. The full vaccination schedule which every child should receive includes 12 vaccines. Since 2001, the cost of the full package has risen dramatically, says the report, The Right Shot: bringing down barriers to affordable and adapted vaccines...