GSK and Pfizer to Discount Pneumonia Vaccines for the Poor

Mar 24, 2010

In a deal that should boost industry karma if not a bottom line, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have forged a partnership with the GAVI Alliance to provide 60 million pneumonia vaccines per year over the next 10 years to poor countries.

The two Big Pharma companies are expected to be the first of many industry titans to facilitate low-cost vaccines to impoverished nations through an Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which is basically a promise from donors to commit a certain number of vaccines at a fixed cost over a long length of time. This ensures that vaccines will be made available for the near future—in this case, at least a decade.

GSK will provide 300 million doses of Synflorix, and Pfizer will match that figure with its new vaccine for invasive pneumococcal disease Prevenar 13. Under the agreement, both companies will provide vaccines for 10 years at the maximum price of $3.50 per dose. GAVI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and five donor countries, including the UK, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Italy, will finance the supply of vaccines.

"The coalition that has made this possible is providing new means to transform global public health,” stated Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, in a release. “The AMC is precisely the sort of innovative model needed to accelerate access to vaccines for people living in the poorest countries. The typical 15 to 20 year ‘vaccine gap' between access in developed countries and the world's poorest countries is unacceptable. This AMC means children in Africa will start to receive Synflorix this year."

There are a lot of challenges in bringing vaccines to the world’s poorest countries said Gwendolyn Fisher, Pfizer’s director of media relations, specialty care, told Pharm Exec on Wednesday. For example, vaccines must remain refrigerated while being transported, distributed, and dispensed. So Pfizer is relying on the alliance to handle the front-end distribution of the vaccines.

“A lot of these countries are warm and don’t have the healthcare infrastructure tha the developed countries have,” said Fisher. “You have to have a sustainable model that can assure pharma companies like Pfizer and GSK that there will be a market available.”

Fisher explained that this is a pilot program to create sustainable access to vaccines in impoverished countries.