GSK unveils Synflorix price cut for refugees, 'biopreparedness' support

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have taken heat for years from the international charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for their pneumococcal vaccine pricing. But in a development that’s getting the London pharma some credit with the international charity, GSK said Monday it’ll lower the price of Synflorix in certain situations.

In humanitarian emergencies where governments aren’t able to provide care, GSK said it’ll supply the vaccine to nongovernmental organizations at $3.05 per dose so that displaced children can be protected. The pharma plans to look at expanding the program to other vaccines in its portfolio, according to a statement.

The price is a far cry from the $68-per-dose the charity paid earlier this summer for pneumonia vaccines to immunize 5,000 refugee children in Greece.

MSF was “relieved” to hear the announcement, it said in a statement, going on to suggest that GSK take its pledge a step further. The company should “reduce the price of the vaccine overall for the many developing countries that still can’t afford it,” MSF argued. 

While GSK didn’t immediately agree to that request, the company did make a separate commitment into emerging disease vaccine research. Vaccines head Moncef Slaoui will voice the company’s support for a collaborative “Biopreparedness Organization” (BPO) at a conference this week, according to the release.

It’s a response to the explosive outbreaks of Ebola and Zika, which caught scientific and health communities off guard. If created, the group would research potential threats based on suggestions from independent experts and be based at GSK’s Rockville vaccines site.

“Such a facility requires a collective approach with backing from governments and other organisations,” GSK said in a statement. “GSK is actively engaging with governments, funders and non-governmental organisations to secure funding to enable the BPO to advance without delay.”

Both announcements come after GSK was named by Fortune as one of “50 companies in 2016 to Change the World," for its strategy to balance social impact and profit. In making the decision, the magazine cited GSK’s work with the first-of-a-kind malaria vaccine Mosquirix, among other programs in vaccines and elsewhere.

GSK brought in about $496 million in 2015 Synflorix sales.

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