Developing countries will receive the scarce vaccine for free, as GSK remains confident it will fulfill contractual vaccine obligations around the world.
GlaxoSmithKline signed an agreement Tuesday with the World Health Organization to donate 50 million doses of adjuvanted H1N1 flu vaccine to developing countries around the world.
“We have been very vocal for our commitment to the global world. This is a commitment we first mentioned when the H1N1 outbreak began,” said Sarah Alspach, director of media relations at GSK.
The drug will be available to 95 developing countries despite industry-wide shortfalls affecting the ability of developed nations to inoculate their own citizens. Twenty percent of production from GSK’s Canadian vaccine production facility has been allocated to developing countries.
“We feel very confident in our ability to meet contractual obligations,” said Alspach. The announcement coincides with the FDA approving GSK’s vaccine for domestic use, making it the last approved vaccine maker with a US government contract.
Shipments of the H1N1 vaccine will begin this month, and are slated to end in May 2010. GSK is also in talks to provide doses of its antiviral drug Relenza at not-for-profit prices to the 50 least developed countries in the world. GSK will provide the drug to other developing nations under a tiered pricing policy.
"We welcome this very generous donation by GlaxoSmithKline, which will go to protect the health of the world's poorest people. This is a real gesture of global solidarity towards those who would not be otherwise able to have access to the vaccine," said Dr. Margaret Chan in a WHO press release. "WHO will now work to see that these vaccines are distributed to those who need them.”
WHO has plans to distribute 200 million total H1N1 vaccine doses to developing countries.