Serum Institute, Panacea, Bharat Bio to cut vaccine prices for GAVI

Serum Institute, Panacea, Bharat Bio to cut vaccine prices for GAVI

The three Indian firms that have committed to cut the prices of the vaccines are Serum Institute of India, Panacea Biotec and Bharat Biotech. The other two global firms are GSK Pharmaceuticals and Merck Co.

"These are promising offers that demonstrate industry commitment to work towards affordable and sustainable prices for life-saving vaccines in developing countries..," GAVI's interim CEO Helen Evans said.

The GAVI Alliance is a Geneva-based public-private partnership aimed at improving health in the world's poorest countries.

It comprises governments of developing and donor countries, WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, vaccine makers, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.

Serum Institute of India has already lowered its price to USD 1.75 per dose, the lowest price available at present.

"We always wanted to bring down the prices from USD 3-3.5, as our price of USD 1.75 enables children from lots of countries access to the pentavalent vaccine," Cyrus S Poonawalla, CMD Serum Institute of India told PTI.

"The volumes are big enough and they have allowed us to lower the price," he added.
One of the other Indian company Panacea Biotec said it plans to reduce the prices of its pentavalent vaccine 'EasyFive', which among other things prevents Tetanus and Hepatitis B, by up to 15 per cent in coming years as it pledged its support to the GAVI alliance.

"We plan to reduce the prices of EasyFive by 10-15 per cent in the coming years. Currently the drug is priced at USD 2.96 per dosage," Panacea Biotec Chief Executive Biologicals R K Suri said.

Panacea Biotec has a long term agreement with UNICEF to supply 75 million doses of Easyfive for the year 2010, 2011 and 2012. The company introduced fully liquid pentavalent vaccine EasyFive in January 2005.

A pentavalent vaccine combines five different vaccines in one injection to protect against five diseases Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech also said it has reduced the price of its Rotavirus vaccine 'Rotavac' to USD 1 per dosage to help treat severe diarrhoea among infants and young children.

"The vaccine will be sold to global public markets, governments worldwide, including UN procurement agencies, at a price of USD 1 per dosage," Bharat Biotech said.

The company expects its new vaccine will help prevent many of the 5 lakh child deaths each year caused due to rotavirus diarrhea and improve access to better and affordable rotavirus vaccines.

Bharat Biotech expects to get licence for Rotavac during 2014 in India and WHO pre-qualification in 2015 for supply to UN agencies.

The vaccine is currently undergoing Phase III clinical development for safety and efficacy in 8,000 subjects, it said.

Commenting on the commitment by the pharmaceutical firms to reduce vaccine prices, Bill and Melinda Gates today said: "We're particularly excited about the offers for rotavirus vaccine because the shock of learning that more than 500,000 children die each year from a preventable disease that causes severe diarrhea is what drew us to work in global health in the first place.."

If rotavirus vaccine could be purchased this year at a USD 2.50 price, the impact on public health could be significant and would allow GAVI to save approximately USD 500 million through 2020, or about USD 140 million through 2015, Evans said.

"We are strongly encouraged by these new developments," Evans added.

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