The deal, brokered by the Geneva-based GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), is the first under a new scheme called an Advance Market Commitment (AMC) which guarantees a market for vaccines supplied to poor nations but sets a maximum price drugmakers can expect to receive.
GAVI estimates that the introduction of new vaccines against pneumococcal disease – which causes serious illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis – could save around 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to seven million lives by 2030.
It was reported on March 11 that several leading drug firms had made long-term commitments in the agreement.
Glaxo and Pfizer each committed to supply 30 million doses of their Synfloriz and Prevnar vaccines to GAVI over 10 years, at $7 per dose for the first 20 percent supplied, dropping to $3.50 for the remaining 80 percent.
By comparison, Glaxo and Pfizer charge between $54 and $108 per shot for their vaccines in rich nations.
“This is a landmark deal. It has been the result of four years of intense work and negotiation, and it means that this year, 2010, we can begin to roll out a better pneumococcal vaccine that can tackle one of the biggest killers of children in the poorest parts of the world,” Julian Lob-Levyt, GAVI’s chief executive, told reporters.
Pneumococcal disease claims the lives of around 800,000 under fives a year. In total the disease kills around 1.6 million people a year and 95 percent of those deaths occur in Africa and Asia.
Glaxo’s Synflorix shot protects against 10 strains of the streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria which cause the disease. It was approved late last year by the World Health Organisation for use in developing countries.
Pfizer’s Prevnar protects against 13 strains and won the approval of US regulators early in March.
GAVI said drug firms can still make offers under the AMC as new calls for supply offers will be issued over time.
Besides Glaxo and Pfizer, Panacea Biotec and the Serum Institute of India are among firms that have registered to the programme and other companies have expressed interest in the pilot, it said. As more companies participate, the long-term vaccine price could drop further.
The pneumococcal deal will be partly funded by Britain, Italy, Canada, Russia, Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who agreed in June last year to invest a total of $1.5bn in the project.
GAVI said it would need to raise a further $1.5bn over the next five years to ensure the programme is fully funded.
This AMC deal is likely to pave the way for future deals on recently introduced vaccines against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea, and an experimental one against malaria, which combined kill millions in poor countries each year.