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Manufacturers of rotavirus vaccines have committed to steep price cuts for vaccines procured by the GAVI Alliance to help protect children in the poorest countries from rotavirus, the leading cause of death due to diarrhea in young children worldwide.

Multinational and emerging market vaccine manufacturers made their offers ahead of GAVI’s pledging conference on Monday, June 13, when GAVI will seek commitments of US$3.7 billion from partners, donors, and vaccine manufacturers to scale up immunization programs for a variety of diseases through 2015.
PATH provides technical expertise regarding rotavirus disease and vaccines as well as advocacy and communication support to the GAVI Alliance Secretariat as part of the Accelerated Vaccine Introduction Initiative Technical Assistance Consortium.

GlaxoSmithKline has offered to supply GAVI with up to 125 million doses of its Rotarix® vaccine over the next five years at US$2.50/dose ($5.00 to fully immunize a child)—approximately 95 percent less than the market price in developed countries and a 67 percent reduction from the lowest price available on the public market today.

Merck has pledged to supply its RotaTeq® vaccine to GAVI at $5.00/dose ($15.00 for full immunization), with the purchase price decreasing to $3.50/dose ($10.50 for the full course) once the purchase volume increases to 30 million doses.

Bharat Biotech has offered GAVI a future price of $1.00/dose ($3.00 for full immunization) for ROTAVAC®, its rotavirus vaccine currently in Phase 3 clinical trials. The vaccine is anticipated to be ready for purchase by 2015, assuming positive outcomes of the trials. Several other manufacturers, including the Serum Institute of India and Shantha Biotechnics, a subsidiary of Sanofi Pasteur, are also developing rotavirus vaccines for low-income countries.

The GAVI Alliance, a public-private global health partnership, works to minimize the cost of vaccines it procures on behalf of the least-developed countries. Low vaccine prices help stretch donor money, immunize more children, and increase the ability of countries to fund vaccines over the long term. GAVI uses strategies such as pooled procurement and predictable financing to provide a sufficient and steady supply of high-quality vaccines and to foster an environment for innovation.

According to GAVI, with full funding, it could roll out rotavirus vaccines to at least 40 of the world’s poorest countries in the next five years, immunizing more than 50 million children. Rotavirus disease causes more than one-third of the 1.34 million diarrhea deaths in children under 5 years of age each year and 40 percent of the 9 million diarrhea-related hospitalizations worldwide.

Helen Evans, GAVI’s interim chief executive officer, welcomed the manufacturers’ commitment to lower prices. If rotavirus vaccine could be purchased this year at $2.50 per dose, she said the impact on public health could be significant and would allow GAVI to save approximately $500 million through to 2020.

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Posted on June 8, 2011.