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Indian firms push down global vaccine prices

business Updated: Jun 07, 2011 01:50 IST
Sanchita Sharma

Bharat Biotech on Monday announced it will price Rotavac, India’s first indigenously developed rotavirus vaccine, at US $ 1/dose. Rotavirus causes fatal diarrhoea that kills around 500,000 children under-5 years each year.

The vaccine is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials for safety and efficacy in 8,000 people and, along with vaccines from Serum Institute and Shantha Biotechnics, is expected to hit the market in 2015.

These vaccines will bring the price of vaccinating a child to $3, down from the current $7.5 per dose.

Cheaper vaccines from India are forcing global giants to slash prices. GSK announced its rotavirus vaccines at $2.50 per dose -- or $5 to fully immunise a child -- in response to a current tender administered by UNICEF.

The offer is a 67% reduction in the current lowest available public price.

Merck has also offered its rotavirus vaccine to UNICEF at discounted prices.

Serum Institute of India and Panacea Biotec have dramatically lowered the prices of their pentavalent vaccine that protects against five potentially fatal infections such as Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), diphtheria, pertussis (whopping cough), tetanus, hepatitis B, rotavirus and cervical cancer.

This year, Serum Institute lowered the price of its pentavalent vaccine to US$ 1.75 per dose, the lowest price available globally. Panacea Biotec has committed to lower its prices by up to 15%.

Today, Merck also announced reducing HPV vaccine prices from the current US$15 / dose to US$ 5/dose, a 67% reduction in the current public price. HPV vaccines protect against cervical cancer, which kills 200,000 women each year.

Over 90% of cervical cancer deaths occur in developing countries.