Pfizer teams up with the Biovac Institute to produce Prevenar 13 in South Africa

South African Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor

In South Africa, 40% of the national budget for vaccines is used to import Pfizer's Prevenar 13, according to Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor. To ease this burden, Pfizer ($PFE) and South Africa's Biovac Institute are entering a 5-year partnership to produce the vaccine domestically, Reuters reported.

According to Biovac, the South African government pays 184.90 rand ($13.45) per dose of Prevenar 13, which is a three-dose regimen. The South African government holds a 47.5% stake in Biovac, which already manufactures other vaccines, including those for polio and tuberculosis.

"There is more that we can do to cut the costs of the vaccine, and that is to manufacture the vaccine here in Cape Town," Pandor said at a news conference, as quoted by Reuters.

The partnership will include technology transfer for the sustainable production of Prevenar 13 in South Africa, Pandor said. Once this is completed, manufacturing is expected to begin in 2020, said Jennifer Power, Pfizer's country manager for South Africa.

However, Pfizer has a 5-year cushion to reap sales of Prevenar at the current price, as South Africa will have to continue importing the vaccine while the technology transfer takes place.

In China, it is a different story. In April this year, Pfizer announced it would pull its vaccines operations out of China as the Chinese government had not renewed the import license of the only vaccine it sells there: Prevenar. A spokeswoman said at the time that the company was working with the Chinese government on launching Prevenar 13, but that there was no clear time frame for bringing it to the Chinese market.

Just last week, Pfizer reported a 43% increase in vaccine revenues, driven by Prevenar 13, international sales of which increased 19%. U.S. sales jumped a whopping 78%, thanks to more adult uptake.

- here's the Reuters story

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