Access to Medicines: MSF kicks off global ████ to reduce the price of ████ to $5 in developing countries

22 Apr 2015
Press release

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) today launched a global campaign - ‘A FAIR SHOT’ - is calling on pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer to slash the price of the pneumonia vaccine in developing countries to US$5 or less per child. Pneumonia kills one million children every year, but MSF is warning the high price of the vaccine is preventing some countries from protecting their children.

MSF is also calling on the pharmaceutical companies to be transparent about the amount they charge countries for the vaccine.

Not only do the companies refuse to share this information, they also work to prevent countries from disclosing the price they pay for this lifesaving vaccine.

Exponential increase in vaccine prices

“In an era of increased transparency it is absurd that the pharmaceutical industry is still able to keep the prices they charge for lifesaving vaccines secret”, explains Dr Manica Balasegaram, director of access to medicines at MSF.

“At the moment, governments and humanitarian organisations have to negotiate a price for themselves, entirely in the dark, without any idea of what others are paying. Many are then forced to sign confidentiality clauses”.

In around 45 countries, there is no information available about the price for the pneumonia vaccine. As a result of this lack of transparency, some middle-income countries find themselves paying more for the pneumonia vaccine than wealthy ones, for example ████ pays more than France and some countries pay multiple times more than others: South Africa pays almost three times more than ████ * (answers below).

A deadly lack of transparency

“We are asking the public to support our call for vaccine producers GSK and Pfizer to publish the prices they charge around the world. We want them to bring the price of the pneumonia vaccine down to $5 per child. The lowest prices that we are aware of are still double this amount,” says director of MSF UAE, Vickie Hawkins.

“A lower price for the pneumonia vaccine would allow more children around the world to be protected, which would ultimately save more lives.”

In January, MSF released a report, ‘The Right Shot’ which showed that the cost of fully vaccinating a child has shot up 68 times over the last decade.

Governments around the world are facing ever-increasing bills for vaccines; already many are not able to afford the full package, and children are dying preventable deaths as a result.

Without sustained reductions in the price of critical vaccines, this crisis will not improve, and price transparency is key to changing this broken market.

MSF staff attended Pfizer’s shareholder meeting in New Jersey today to ask a question from the floor, pushing the company’s board members to disclose the price of the pneumonia vaccine in all countries. MSF also handed out documents with key information blacked out to highlight the deadly secrecy surrounding vaccine pricing.

As a part of its campaign, on social media MSF will be using a provocative censored text tactic that highlights the lack of information on vaccine prices, in order to increase pressure on the companies to be more transparent.

MSF is now urging people everywhere to #AskPharma to disclose the price of the pneumonia vaccine and to ask GSK and Pfizer to reduce the price of the vaccine to $5 or less per child ($1.66 per dose for three doses) in developing countries.

*Answers: Tunisia pays more than France; South Africa pays almost three times more than Brazil.

Visit the Fair Shot campaign website
Find out more about MSF's Access Campaign