funnyangel /
28 April 2016Africa

Syringes delivered to GSK doors in pneumonia vaccine row

Advocate group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivered a suitcase full of syringes to the London headquarters of pharmaceutical company GSK in protest at the price of a pneumonia vaccine.

The syringes were stuffed with paper including the names of 400,000 people who had signed an MSF-backed petition to get the company to lower its prices.

MSF activists also placed 2,500 flowers outside the door of Pfizer’s headquarters in New York, with one flower representing each child lost to pneumonia every day globally. In addition, the names of those who had signed the petition lay in an empty baby cot.

The petition demands that the two companies reduce the price of their vaccines to $5 per child in all developing countries and for humanitarian organisations.

“Despite there being a vaccine that can prevent pneumonia, it remains the leading global cause of childhood death, killing almost one million children under the age of five each year,” MSF said.

Pfizer’s vaccine is called Prevenar 13, while GSK’s is named Synflorix.

Both companies said they make large amounts of the vaccines available at discounted prices through a programme called the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).

But MSF said the prices should be lowered still.

Greg Elder, medical coordinator for MSF’s Access Campaign, said: “After combined sales of more than $30 billion for the pneumonia vaccine alone, we think it’s pretty safe to say that GSK and Pfizer could find the money to lower the price, so all developing countries can protect their children from this killer.”

In response, GSK said that “millions more children from the world’s poorest countries” were being vaccinated and that should be seen as a good thing.

GSK added that its manufacturing has enabled it to identify incremental cost efficiencies and that in 2017, under the GAVI programme, it will be able to offer a price reduction to $3.05.

“At this level, we are able to just cover our costs and maintain our ability to supply the vaccine to these countries in the long-term,” GSK added.

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