Major Drug Companies Cut Vaccine Prices in Developing Countries
June 6, 2011
International Business Times reports, a group of major western pharmaceutical companies announced that they will significantly reduce the prices they charge for vaccines in the developing world. Merck & Co., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi-Aventis have all agreed to cut prices through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). GAVI is a public-private partnership that seeks to finance vaccination programs in the developing countries. It was established by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. GSK will lower the price of its vaccine for rotavirus by two-thirds to $2.50 per dose in developing countries. Rotavirus-related diarrhea is estimated to kill more than 500,000 children a year. To compensate, GSK will charge higher prices for the vaccine in the wealthier countries. According to reports, in the U.S., the rotavirus vaccine cost $50. Merck will offer its own rotavirus vaccine for $5 a dose, then further reduce it to $3.50 after it sells more than 30 million doses. Two Indian drug companies, Serum Institute and Panacea Biotec, will cut the prices they charge for pentavalent vaccines, which defend against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B (all of which are fatal diseases).