WASHINGTON (AP) – Drugmakers Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline announced they have agreed to supply hundreds of millions of additional doses of pneumonia vaccine to an international partnership that provides immunization to children in developing countries.
The drugmakers’ agreements, announced separately, build on an existing 10-year pact with the Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, which is funded by a handful of developed nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In March 2010, Pfizer and Glaxo signed agreements to supply 30 million doses each per year for 10 years, or 300 million over a decade. Under the extension announced Friday, the companies will supply an additional 180 million vaccines each through 2023. GAVI and the receiving nations will pay $3.50 per dose for the vaccines, a significant discount from the price in the developed world.
Pneumococcal disease, which includes pneumonia, takes the lives of 1.6 million people each year including approximately 800,000 children before their fifth birthday, according to GAVI. More than 90 percent of the deaths are in developing countries, with pneumonia accounting for one in every four child deaths.
GAVI estimated affordable vaccines could save 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to 7 million lives by 2030.
Pfizer will supply Prevnar 13, which is approved for use in infants and young children in more than 40 countries, including the U.S.
“Pfizer is proud to broaden and extend access to our vaccine to advance public health,” said Mark Swindell, president of Pfizer’s vaccine division, in a statement.
GlaxoSmithKline said it will supply its Synflorix, which is approved in the U.K., Europe and other regions outside the U.S.
Many of the largest global pharmaceutical companies – most recently Johnson & Johnson – have jumped into the vaccine business in recent years to diversify revenue as many of their blockbuster pills are facing generic competition. Vaccines are all but immune from generic competition in developed countries, and some newer shots, such as Pfizer’s Prevnar vaccine, now bring in billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Drugmakers are looking to less-developed countries for future sales growth, and vaccines against crippling and deadly childhood diseases are cost-effective purchases for countries with small health budgets.
Date: December 16, 2011
Source: Associated Press