French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur has announced a deal with UNICEF to supply significant quantities of its inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to countries on a tiered price basis as part of a global plan to eradicate polio. Tiered pricing is a strategy long used by pharmaceutical companies to maximize profits by segmenting developing countries into different price bands based on socio-economic status.
Sanofi's IPV will be available to all countries that have ever been GAVI Alliance-eligible. In waiving it's usual policy, where only currently eligible countries can apply for GAVI new vaccine support, all 73 countries that have ever been GAVI-eligible can apply for IPV, which will be available for as little as EUR 0.75 per dose (around US$1.00 per dose) in ten-dose vials. But middle-income countries - many of which struggle with the high costs of vaccination - will pay as much as double to three times more, between EUR 1.49-2.40 ($2.04 - $3.28 per dose).
MSF responds to the announcement with the below quote:
"The latest price announcements for inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) remind us that the global public health community is allowing itself to be browbeaten by a tiered pricing system that has been set by the pharmaceutical companies. Middle-income countries – some of which have immunization systems that are just as weak as the poorest countries – are still left with a price that is double or triple the cost of the price agreed for GAVI-eligible countries.
Through the GAVI Alliance's successful efforts to reduce prices, we're now seeing the light shine on the high prices and challenges faced by countries not eligible for support, but who are left to fend for themselves in a system that's veiled in secrecy. We now have the unusual paradox that some of these countries are introducing new vaccines at a slower pace than the poorest countries that are eligible for GAVI support. The impact reaches further than just countries; MSF pays double the lowest price for the pneumonia vaccine, which restricts our ability to vaccinate as many vulnerable kids as possible.
It's unclear if these new IPV prices are a good deal as we have no idea what is the real cost to make this vaccine. As noted by Bill Gates, price is a barrier to achieving public health goals. The vaccines community must take decisive steps and develop global solutions that promote affordable vaccines for all children, regardless of where they live."
- Rohit Malpani, Director Policy and Analysis, Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign.
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