Pfizer, GSK vaccines could save nearly 1M lives by 2015

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have pledged to supply vaccines against pneumococcal disease to the world's poorest countries at discounted prices. And the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which brokered the arrangement, estimates that the introduction of new the vaccines could save roughly 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to 7 million lives by 2030. GAVI says it plans to introduce pneumococcal vaccines in 47 countries by 2015.

Pfizer says it will supply its Prevenar-13 for infants and young children under the terms of the advance market commitment (AMC) pilot project against pneumococcal disease. At the same time, GSK will supply its vaccine Synflorix. The two companies have committed to supply 30 million doses each per year for a 10 year period. These vaccines will be made available at $3.50 per dose to be paid by GAVI and the developing country governments that introduce the vaccines.

The agreement is the result of years of planning by GAVI, UNICEF, the World Bank and major donors, who recognized the potential of vaccines to prevent diseases in developing countries. The mechanism is backed by the G8 and was officially launched by the AMC partners and donors June 12, 2009.

"The AMC is precisely the sort of innovative model needed to accelerate access to vaccines for people living in the poorest countries.  The typical 15-20 year ‘vaccine gap' between access in developed countries versus the world's poorest countries is unacceptable. This AMC means children in Africa will start to receive Synflorix this year," GSK CEO Andrew Witty says in a statement.

Besides GSK and Pfizer, Panacea Biotec and the Serum Institute of India are among the companies that have registered to the program, and other drugmakers have expressed interest in the pilot. As more firms take part, the long-term vaccine price could drop further. GAVI says it needs to raise a further $1.5 billion over the next 5 years to ensure the program is fully funded, Reuters notes.

This week, GAVI says it will also introduce a plan  to save more than 4 million lives in the next five years by increasing access to immunization in the world's poorest countries. The plan, which will require $4.3 billion, will prevent deaths from diseases such as hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

- read the Pfizer release
- check out GSK's release
- see the GAVI's release on Pfizer, GSK and the immunization plan