News / Health

Drug Companies Cut Prices of Vaccines for Poor Countries

Aliyatu Abdulai (R), a Sierra Leonean Maternal and Child Health Aide, administers a vaccine to a child in the village of Sembehun, outside the town of Bo, in the southeast region of the West African country, which is supported by the GAVI Alliance that fu
Aliyatu Abdulai (R), a Sierra Leonean Maternal and Child Health Aide, administers a vaccine to a child in the village of Sembehun, outside the town of Bo, in the southeast region of the West African country, which is supported by the GAVI Alliance that fu
Lisa Schlein

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization [GAVI] says millions of children in developing countries will not die because major drug companies have agreed to drastically cut the price of life-saving vaccines. GAVI has announced this important new initiative.

The United Nations estimates 8 million children around the world die before their fifth birthday. About 1.7 million of them die from diseases that are preventable by vaccines.

GAVI spokesman Jeffrey Rowland said that one child dies every 20 seconds because he or she did not receive a life-saving shot in the arm or the leg.  

“GAVI’s goal over the next five years, by 2015, is to immunize millions more children and save an additional four million children’s lives, purely by providing basic vaccines against diseases that are… almost non-existent in rich countries, as well as providing new vaccines against pneumonia, diarrheal diseases and then hopefully HPV [Human Papillomavirus] and some other vaccine-preventable diseases,” he said.

Rowland said GAVI now has a fair chance of achieving this goal because a number of vaccine manufacturers in emerging countries and in the West have agreed to drastically cut prices of life-saving vaccines to developing countries.  

Companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Johnson and Johnson, and Sanofi-Aventis will, in some instances, reduce prices by as much as two-thirds to poor countries.  

Rowland said the India-based firms Serum Institute and Panacea Biotec will provide reductions on vaccines that protect children against five potential killers. These include diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

He said other companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck will provide low-priced vaccines to protect children against rotavirus, the leading cause of severe diarrhea. It kills about half a million children annually.  

“Almost all children in the world get rotavirus," said Rowland. "The thing is, that in the United States or in Europe, children usually have good access to medical care - so re-hydration, antibiotics, hospitalization. Children in poor countries, on the other hand, usually do not. So, by the time a mother brings her child to a clinic after having diarrhea, that child is near death. And, oftentimes the antibiotics and the services are not available to save the child’s life.”

A rotavirus vaccine in the United States can cost as much as $50. Under the lower pricing scheme, this same vaccine purchased in a developing country could now cost about $2.50.

More than 90 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in developing countries. It kills 200,000 women each year. Rowland said women in poor countries who get this terrible disease face a brighter future.  

He said Merck will offer GAVI the HPV vaccine at a reduced price of $5 a dose - a 67 percent reduction from the current price.  

GAVI hopes to raise $3.7 billion at a pledging conference next week. Rowland said that given the lower prices for vaccines, this money will allow the organization to fund the immunization of almost a quarter of a billion extra children by 2015.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs