Drug Companies Slash Vaccine Prices for Poor Countries

June 6, 2011  |  

By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

We don’t have to to worry about diphtheria or pertussis in the Western world, because our mandatory vaccination system protects us from birth from these diseases. By contrast, in developing nations young children race a gauntlet against death as protection against ravaging illness is not equitably available, largely due to cost. More than 500,000 children per year die from virus-related diarrhea, for example, a sickness that could be prevented with an inexpensive shot. Well, inexpensive to us.

Fortunately, an organization called Gavi has successfully lobbied major vaccine manufacturers to lower prices for numerous vaccines sold to third word countries in a move that could save four millions lives over five years. Companies participating in the price-cutting program include GSK, Merk and Panacea Biotech, with GSK for example lowering the cost for a key anti-viral vaccine by 67% to $2.50 a dose. According to BBC News, “Save the Children called on other companies to replicate the ‘landmark move’ which it said could prevent hundreds of thousands of needless deaths.'” Other anti-poverty organizations are also pressuring world leaders to join the campaign to insure that all children are protected from preventable infectious diseases.

Allafrica.com reports that: “According to World Health Organisation estimates, 1.7 million children die yearly from vaccine preventable diseases, mainly in developing countries. That is one child in every 20 seconds.” Gavi is to be commended for taking on the cause of ending this needless suffering, which deeply impacts the children of Africa and beyond.

Alexis Garrett Stodghill writes for News One, Clutch Magazine and Coco & Creme, and helped launch BlackPlanet.com. Share tips and story ideas: stodghillalexisgarrett@gmail.com. Follow Alexis on Twitter.


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