UNICEF discloses vaccine prices for 1st time

NICEF posted on its website the actual prices that it has paid individual drugmakers for 16 vaccines purchased over the last decade. It's a move that a few Western pharmaceutical companies don't support.

Novartis AG and Merck & Co, which only sells one of its many children's vaccines to UNICEF, both declined to have their prices published.

UNICEF said it will continue to disclose pricing of future vaccine deals, with the hope that the transparency will push drugmakers to cut prices and thus allow the organization to vaccinate more children and save more lives.

"Transparency will also help foster a competitive, diverse supplier base," said Shanelle Hall, director of UNICEF's supply division. She noted that it also will help UNICEF's partners and those governments that buy vaccines on their own to make more informed decisions in price negotiations with drugmakers.

UNICEF last year spent USD757 million to provide 2.5 billion doses of vaccines to 99 countries, reaching an estimated 58 per cent of the world's children.

Its price list shows significant disparity, with Western drugmakers often charging UNICEF double what companies in India and Indonesia do. Just as striking is the steady rise in prices in the last decade, with the cost of vaccines against measles, polio and tetanus roughly doubling between 2001 and 2010. Prices of a few vaccines have remained flat or declined as additional competitors entered the market.

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