Vaccine alliance says 5-in-1 shot cost to fall

* Price has fallen by 30 percent in seven years

* Shot is much needed in developing countries

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, Nov 26 (BestGrowthStock) – The price of a life-saving
vaccine against five deadly diseases is expected to drop further
in 2011, allowing more of the world’s poorest children to be
immunised, the global vaccines group GAVI said on Friday.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation said that
thanks to increased demand for the pentavalent, or five-in-one
vaccine and a reduced price offer by an un-named emerging market
vaccine manufacturer, the average price will drop to $2.58 next
year compared to the current average price of $2.97.

This represents a decrease of 30 percent over the last seven
years, GAVI said in a statement.

The pentavalent vaccine, which protects against diphtheria,
tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and
hepatitis B, is routinely given to children in wealthy nations
but price has kept it out of the reach of some poorer nations.

The shot is very much needed in low-income countries where
access to health services is often limited and mothers have find
it hard to bring their babies to be regularly vaccinated.

GAVI, which buys and distributes vaccines for developing
countries, said higher demand had pushed purchasing costs down.

“By pooling the strong demand by developing countries and
ensuring long-term sustainable funding, these vaccines are
becoming increasingly affordable,” GAVI’s interim chief
executive Helen Evans said in a statement. “As a result, more
children can be protected against these deadly diseases.”

The alliance said that as recently as 2004, only a handful
of poor countries were using the pentavalent vaccine, but more
than 80 percent of them were using it now that it is cheaper.

GAVI’s pentavalent programmes currently involve World Health
Organisation-approved vaccines made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ),
Crucell (CRCL.AS: ), the Serum Institute of India and Panacea
(PNCA.BO: ).

GAVI said its commitment to fund the vaccine for poorer
countries had drawn new manufacturers to the market, creating
competition and pushing prices down. Next year, five versions of
the vaccine will be available, most of them from drugmakers in
emerging markets, it said, but would not give details of the
latest manufacturer to join the pool.

Even with lower vaccine prices, GAVI says it still needs
around $3.7 billion over the next five years to continue
providing pentavalent shot for poorer countries, as well as new
vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases, the two
biggest killers of young children in the world.

GAVI, which is supported by the WHO, the World Bank, UNICEF,
vaccine makers and research centres and the Bill and Melinda
Gates foundation, said that since its launch in 2000, an extra
288 million children have been immunised and more than 5 million
premature deaths averted.

The group estimates that a fully-funded programme would
prevent 3.9 million future deaths by 2015.

The alliance raises money by leveraging long-term aid
commitments from countries through capital markets, with regular
offerings of “vaccine bonds” organised by the International
Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm).
(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Vaccine alliance says 5-in-1 shot cost to fall