Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), the Nobel prize-winning organisation working on the frontline in remote and conflict areas, says vaccines bought with UK and other donor governments’ money cost too much and are not designed for the needs of hot and impoverished countries. When the pot of money subsidising the high prices of western pharmaceutical companies runs out, developing world governments will not be able to afford the vaccines and children will continue to lose their lives, MSF says.
MSF is concerned that the deals between the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), to which the UK was the biggest donor last year, and pharmaceutical companies such as the British giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer in the US, are not transparent and do not have inbuilt sustainability.
“It looks to us like a big subsidy for pharma – there is no other way of saying it really,” said Dr Manica Balasegaram, executive director of MSF’s access campaign.
Seth Berkley, chief executive of the Gavi Alliance, rejects the criticism and says the organisation is working to fashion a market for vaccines in poor countries that has not existed previously, and that will result in competition, eventually leading to lower prices.
Yes, because laissez-faire trickle-down indifference always pays off in the end (for somebody, anyway).