Médecins Sans Frontières Lobbies Pharmaceutical Companies

By Petrina Smith
Wednesday, 21 January, 2015

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is urging the Australian Government to join the call for pharmaceutical companies to slash the price of the pneumococcal vaccine in developing countries.
The call, directed at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer, comes ahead of the Gavi vaccination donor conference in Berlin on 27 January.
As one of the top ten donors to Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance, Australia will join dozens of other countries at the conference to donate to the international effort to vaccinate children against preventable diseases. Donors will be asked to put an additional $7.5 billion dollars on the table to pay for vaccines in poor countries for the next five years, with over one third of that going to pay for pneumococcal vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccine accounts for approximately 45 per cent  of the total cost to vaccinate a child in the poorest countries (the full package includes protection against 12 diseases).
“As one of the top ten donors Australia has donated $250 million to Gavi over the past five years. "Saving children’s lives through vaccinating against deadly diseases like pneumonia is indeed one of the best investments Australia can make with its significantly reduced aid budget; but Australia needs to couple that aid with robust advocacy. "That means joining the call for pharmaceutical companies to reduce their prices for developing countries,” said  Advocacy Manager for Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, Kelly Nichols.
 “Just think of how much further taxpayer money could go to vaccinate more children if vaccines were cheaper,” Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis for Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign.
Médecins Sans Frontières has also released the second edition of its vaccine pricing report The Right Shot: Bringing Down Barriers to Affordable and Adapted Vaccines, which shines a light on the vaccine industry and the lack of data on vaccine prices. In the poorest countries, the price to vaccinate a child is now  68 times more expensive than it was in 2001, with many parts of the world unable to afford new vaccines like that against pneumococcal disease.
 “We have an irrational situation where some developing countries like Morocco and Tunisia are paying more for the pneumococcal vaccine than France does,” said Kate Elder, Vaccines Policy Advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign. “Because of the astronomical cost of new vaccines, many governments are facing tough choices about which deadly diseases they can afford to protect their children against.”
“Governments need to put pressure on companies to offer better prices to Gavi and the countries it supports,” said Elder. 

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