By Paul Mwaura
| Nairobi, Kenya
A vaccine to protect children against pneumococcal diseases will be launched in Kenya next week.
Introducing the newpneumococcal vaccine (PCV) in developing countries is a critical step that can prevent millions of bouts of illness and countless deaths in children.
However there are concerns about this vaccine, a closer look at the financing mechanism to support this programme, called the Pneumococcal Advance Market Commitment (AMC), reveals that two multinational pharmaceutical companies – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer/Wyeth – are receiving a significant subsidy, funded by donor governments, in order to secure their participation in the scheme.
MSF analysis shows that the AMC has not paid enough importance to ensuring competition from developing country producers, even though such competition can lower vaccine costs.
The companies have each agreed to sell 30 million doses annually for ten years in exchange for US$3.50 per dose, plus a total subsidy of $225 million for each company.
Emerging country suppliers have said they could sell similar pneumococcal vaccine products at $2.00 per dose, more than 40% less than the $3.50 per dose currently being paid by GAVI (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. which is hosting the AMC.
In today’s funding climate, this difference is extremely important, especially for the sixteen countries that will no longer be eligible to receive GAVI support starting in 2015. In the long run, MSF is concerned high prices will make PCV unaffordable, and prevent children from receiving this important vaccine.