Vaccine makers cut prices for developing countries

Just over a week after UNICEF began publishing vaccine prices, many vaccine producers including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have announced they will cut their vaccine prices for developing countries.

GSK has halved its rotavirus vaccine price tag, to $2.50 per dose, or $5 for a full immunization; Merck dropped RotaTeq from $5 per dose to $3.50 after 30 million doses were purchased. Also, Gardasil costs will decrease by 67 percent from the current public price, according to Pharma Times. And according to a GAVI release, Sanofi Pasteur and Crucell have committed to selling their pentavalent vaccines to 16 countries at GAVI price points.

"What we need is a return to invest in the next generation of new vaccines and drugs and that has to come from the profits of the medicines or the vaccines," GSK CEO Andrew Witty told the BBC. "But it's obvious that if you're in Kenya or a slum in Malawi or somewhere like that there is no capacity for those people to contribute to it, so they have to be helped out by the contribution from the middle and the richer (countries)."

Big Pharma isn't alone in the price crunch: India's Serum Institute and Panacea Biotec will lower prices on their pentavalent vaccines, which protect against diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, pertussis and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

Supporters are clear: the price drop is only one step in the right direction. "The pricing commitments announced today help drive momentum, but GAVI's ambition to save four million lives in the next five years is only achievable if the international donor community steps up to the plate on 13 June," said Jamie Drummond, executive director of campaign group ONE, to the BBC. GAVI hopes to receive $3.7 billion from donors at the London conference, according to Pharma Times.

- check out the GAVI release
- read the Pharma Times post
- and here's more from the BBC
- see the New York Times article