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GSK Will Ensure Experimental Malaria Vaccine Is Affordable, CEO Says

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty said Wednesday the company would ensure that if an experimental malaria vaccine works, it would be priced reasonably, Reuters reports. “The vaccine, called Mosquirix [or RTS,S] and the first malaria shot to make it to final-stage trials, is creating a buzz ahead of a conference of 1,500 malaria experts in Nairobi next week,” writes Reuters.

“We are not going to let price get in the way of access for malaria vaccines,” Witty said. “We will be extremely responsible about the way we price this vaccine.” Witty said he preferred a pricing mechanism like the Advance Market Commitment programme, “which creates a financial incentive with a guaranteed price for drugmakers to deliver vaccines to poorer countries,” the news service writes.

Christian Loucq, president of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, said, “Malaria is such a huge problem in Africa, and a vaccine is perceived as such a strong intervention, that when we talk about a potential vaccine candidate the cry is always ‘when will it come?'” According to Loucq, “Among public health specialists and vaccinologists in Africa, this is seen as the major upcoming intervention – and that is creating great excitement.”

He also warned against “repeat[ing] the mistakes of previous elimination and eradication campaigns, when people forgot about investing in continuous research.” Loucq said it is important “to have the tools of today and the tools of tomorrow – which we will need when today’s tools lose their efficacy.”

“Large-scale safety trials of Mosquirix began in May and it has now been given to between 5,000 and 6,000 children in seven African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Gabon. … Data from earlier trials of Mosquirix suggest it is 50 to 55 percent effective,” Reuters writes (Kelland, 10/28). A Reuters factbox includes data about malaria worldwide (10/28).

In related news, the Daily Nation reports that some 800 studies on malaria will be presented next week at the Fifth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Pan-African Conference in Kenya. One such study is that “[m]alaria-causing mosquitoes are changing their feeding habits, getting their meals earlier in the evening before people go to sleep under nets,” which could reduce nets’ effectiveness in preventing malaria, according to the newspaper (Gathurap, 10/28).

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