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GAVI Alliance Drives Down Pentavalent Vaccine Costs, Data Shows

The “co-ordinated buying policy” of the GAVI Alliance has driven down “[t]he price of a vaccine that helps babies fight off killer diseases,” according to data released by the group, Reuters reports. In 2010, the price of pentavalent vaccine, which protects against Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and hepatitis B, will fall “below $3.0 – a drop of almost $0.50 cents per dose on the 2009 price,” according to the news services.

“This price drop is no accident, but … the result of a strategy to leverage the purchasing power of hundreds of millions of people,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Saad Houry said in statement. “Clearly, industry understands and responds to a market, regardless of whether that market is in poor or rich countries” (Kelland, 11/17).

As part of an “alliance of governments, U.N. agencies, vaccine makers and charities including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” GAVI was created in 2000 to help “reduce the price of vaccines for people in poor nations by seeking to increase demand for the shots and competition among vaccine makers, the alliance said in the e-mailed statement,” Bloomberg writes. Since 2001, the number of companies producing the pentavalent vaccine has grown from one to four.

“The price drop has come later than we had hoped and it needs to fall further,” Julian Lob-Levyt, chief executive officer of GAVI, said in the statement. “But this is a clear indication that our market-shaping efforts work.” Bloomberg writes, adding that “GAVI expects the price to fall to $2.61 by 2011, Jeffrey Rowland, a spokesman for the alliance, said in a telephone interview.” Through its programs GAVI has vaccinated 256 million children and prevented 4 million deaths (Bennett, 11/17).

“This is the GAVI effect at work: pooling growing demand from countries, attracting new manufacturers and increasing competition to drive down prices,” Lob-Levyt said, Pharmabiz.com reports. “Now, several of our activities will benefit from the saving, including the introduction of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines in GAVI eligible countries, beginning in 2010” (11/18).

During the GAVI Partners Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Tuesday, UNICEF, who serves as the main buyer of vaccines for GAVI, “said it would purchase 148 million doses of pentavalent vaccine … in 2011 and 150 million in 2012,” Livemint.com reports. The article examines the role two Indian vaccine manufacturers have played in driving down the cost of the pentavalent vaccine (Singh, 11/18). 

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.