GSK declared that it has made a new proposal to make available its rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix, to the Gavi Alliance at $2.50 per dosage, a small portion of developed world prices. This pronouncement is part of the company’s labors to enhance access to its medicines and vaccines in the poorest countries of the world. It is expected that more than half a million children die of rotavirus gastroenteritis each year – the equivalent of a child a minute worldwide and it is accountable for the hospitalization of millions more.
GSK’s proposal has been made in response to a UNICEF request for rotavirus vaccines and will now be assessed by UNICEF. If accepted, huge amount of vaccination against rotavirus could begin later this year. The proposal made to UNICEF was developed in discussion with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Clinton Health Access Initiative with support from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), and comes ahead of the Gavi Pledging Conference for Immunization which will be held in London this month.
This latest assurance for Rotarix follows the declaration in March 2010 that GSK would provide its pneumococcal vaccine, Synflorix, to Gavi at a profoundly economical price through an inventive financing system known as the Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Rotavirus associated diarrhoea and pneumococcal infections are the two most important childhood killers in developing countries.
The CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty said, “GSK is devoted to playing its part in dealing with the healthcare challenges faced by the poorest countries in the world. By working in partnership with others including international agencies, governments, NGOs and developing countries, we can find ground-breaking ways to speed up access to vaccines that are immediately required by children living in these countries.”
GSK has promised to donate 125 million dosages of Rotarix to Gavi over the next 5 years at a 95% cut of the price to developed Western markets to help meet the demand for rotavirus vaccination predicted by UNICEF. The discounted Rotarix price is in sequence with GSK’s venerable tiered pricing policy which facilitates poorer countries to pay considerably less than higher income countries for the same vaccine, with the lowest prices set aside for agencies such as UNICEF which procure large volumes of vaccines for the world’s poorest children.
Immunization against rotavirus has so far been successfully introduced in four Gavi eligible countries: Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Guyana. By grabbing a definite supply of low priced high quality vaccines, this new offer would enable Gavi to spread out rotavirus vaccination further, with the aim to cover over 40 countries by 2015.
In April 2009, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) recommended that rotavirus immunization be incorporated in all national immunization programs. Based on this verdict, the WHO awarded global pre-qualification to Rotarix. These assessments have opened the door to making rotavirus vaccines available to children throughout the world.
100 million dosages of Rotarix have been distributed since its initiation in 2007 which means that approximately 50 million children throughout the globe have been inoculated with Rotarix against rotavirus.
Vaccination against rotavirus has so far been fruitfully launched in 14 countries in Latin America and Mexico, including four Gavi eligible countries: Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Guyana. South Africa is the only country in Africa to presently vaccinate against rotavirus, with North Sudan expected to follow in June 2011.
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