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Indian Firm Cuts Price of Major Vaccine

  • Joe DeCapua

Gavi Alliance helps provide many types of immunization in African countries. (GAVI)

Gavi Alliance helps provide many types of immunization in African countries. (GAVI)

An Indian manufacturer has cut the price of a major vaccine for children. It means the cost of the vaccine -- that protects against five diseases -- will be available for a little more than a dollar per dose. The agreement was brokered by the GAVI Alliance.

The pentavalent vaccine immunizes children against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and hib – bacteria that can cause meningitis, pneumonia and other infections.

“The pentavalent vaccine is really our flagship vaccine. We’ve rolled it out in 70 out of 73 of the world’s poorest countries that we work in so far. It’s the basic childhood vaccine. Three shots of this will set the child up for life, a healthy and productive life,” said Dan Thomas, GAVI’s chief spokesman.

GAVI is a public / private partnership that helps make vaccinations available in developing countries. It says the agreement with Biological E Limited lowers the cost by one-third. It says it could mean a savings of up to $150 million over the next four years.

Thomas said, “Vaccines cost money. We buy them on the open market. So, we work with the vaccine manufacturers to try and ensure a sustainable supply and a quality supply of vaccines, but also at prices that we can afford to buy them.”

The agreement lowers the price for the pentavalent vaccine to $1.19 per dose. That’s about a dollar cheaper than last year. Ten years ago, it cost $3.56 a dose. Besides Biological E Limited, GAVI has agreements with four other suppliers.

“All the vaccines that we buy are of the highest standards -- the same vaccine standards that we see in the world’s richest countries. So that’s the first thing. They’re all pre-qualified by the World Health Organization. So these really are the very best vaccines, in terms of quality and price available, in the global market place,” he said.

GAVI expects to roll out the vaccine in the remaining three countries soon.

“We’re hoping to introduce it in Somalia later this month. And Indonesia later this year and then South Sudan early next year we hope,” said Thomas.

At a London conference in June 2011, donors pledged an additional $4.3 billion dollars for GAVI programs through 2015. Donors will meet again in October in Stockholm to assess immunization progress.

The announcement of the vaccine price cut comes shortly before the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi. It will be held April 24th and 25th.