Numerous complaints by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres over the cost of pneumococcal vaccine given to refugees by GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR)(NYSE:GSK) have yielded fruit. The British drugmaker says that it will lower the price of Synflorix, which protects children against pneumonia and other diseases. Instead of the $68-per-dose that MSF paid earlier this summer, the discounted cost per dose will now be $3.05, an enormous discount.
The move by the London-based pharma may have gained it some credit around the globe and more so from the international charity, but GSK was quick to state that the reduction of the price of Synflorix will only apply in certain situations. Nonetheless, MSF still feels relieved of the enormous costs it has to bear over time of up to 50 pounds ($65) a dose in local pharmacies.
MSF urges GSK to take its pledge further
The low price of $3.05 price has previously been made available to the world’s poorest countries. However, there are thousands of refugee children who need the vaccinations, a majority of those who are fleeing from conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Earlier this summer, a total of 5,000 refugee children received pneumonia vaccination in Greece alone, which explains the dire need for this vaccine.
In this regard, MSF is urging GSK, which supplies vaccine to nongovernmental organizations to step up its game given that government is not able to provide necessary care required in case of humanitarian emergencies. The charity is insisting the company have an overall reduction of the price especially in the many developing countries that cannot afford it.
Will GSK give in to MSF’s requests?
There is no certainty as to whether or not GSK will own up to the request by MSF, since they still have to make money on their products. However, it has plans to expand the program to other vaccines in its portfolio as well as getting involved in the disease vaccine research. This is in response to Ebola and Zika outbreaks that caught scientific and health communities off guard.
Vaccines head at GSK, Moncef Slaoui, says that the company is ready to support a collaborative “Biopreparedness Organization” (BPO). At the same time, it is also actively engaged in securing funding to enable the advancement of BPO. For its strategy to balance social impact and profit, GSK has been named one of “50 companies in 2016 to Change the World.”