Global vaccine prices must fall, says MSF

DA-ST-96-01214 The medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has warned that vaccine prices are too high for many poorer countries.

In the last decade, MSF said, the cost of fully vaccinating a child has risen from $1.37 to $38.80, due largely to expensive new rotavitus and meningitis vaccines.

MSF has asked the GAVI Alliance, which makes discounted vaccines available to governments, to also make them available to humanitarian organisations.

Organisations such as MSF, which can reach children in vulnerable groups who are neglected by standard vaccination programmes, are currently unable to negotiate the cheapest vaccine prices.

“Urgent action is needed to address the skyrocketing price to vaccinate a child, which has risen by 2,700 percent over the last decade,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director of MSF’s Access Campaign.

“Countries where we work will lose their donor support to pay for vaccines soon, and will have to decide which killer diseases they can and can’t afford to protect their children against.”

A recent press statement from MSF blamed the growing lack of access to vaccines in poorer countries on the “lack of transparency by companies on vaccine manufacturing costs and their focus on profits above ensuring sustainable prices”.

However, it also described GAVI’s new offer to reduce the price of pentavalent vaccine as “an excellent example of what GAVI can achieve, especially when there are multiple vaccine manufacturers in a market and healthy competition”.

MSF called on GAVI and the pharmaceutical industry to bring vaccine prices in poorer countries “much closer to the cost of production”. It noted that drug donations are not a long-term solution to the issues of global vaccine supply.