UPDATE: On Monday, Pfizer announced that the company would reduce the price of four-dose vials of pneumococcal vaccine Prevenar 13 from $3.30 per dose to $3.10 per dose, a reduction of approximately 6%, after heavy blowback for high vaccine prices from advocates and patients' groups.
Donor organization GAVI welcomes news of the discount. "It is encouraging to see vaccine manufacturers increasingly recognizing the importance of sustainable vaccine markets for developing countries," said Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley in a statement.
But other organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, said Pfizer didn't go nearly far enough, calling the price cut "negligible."
- Although Glaxo says that it offers vaccines to developing countries at discounted prices, Doctors Without Borders asserts that Glaxo and Pfizer are selling vaccines such as the pneumococcal vaccine to donors and developing countries at unnecessarily high prices.
- Doctors Without Borders has called on GSK and Pfizer to decrease the price of the pneumococcal vaccine to $5.00 per child. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against pneumonia, meningitis, and ear and sinus infections.
- Doctors Without Borders has reported that Pfizer and Glaxo sold more than $19 billion worth of pneumococcal vaccines.
In large measure, access to vaccines is provided to poor and developing countries through donor organizations, such as GAVI, which also happens to be the biggest provider of money for vaccines that are used in developing countries. Pharma companies offer the lowest prices to GAVI and other donor organizations, with some discounts as high as 90%.
However, according to Pfizer, making the pneumococcal vaccine, Prevenar 13, is time-consuming and complex, with a two-year production cycle.
A critical part of GAVI's mission is to decrease preventable deaths by offering vaccines and other preventive interventions to those who need them most. Since 2000, GAVI's work has led to the immunization of 440 million children, which resulted in the overall prevention of six million deaths.
GAVI, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, as well as by governments, is meeting next week in Berlin.