A fair shot: Campaign to cut PH pneumonia vaccine price

MANILA, Philippines – International medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders or Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) is partnering with media impact company NextDayBetter to amplify its global campaign to make the pneumonia vaccine more accessible for millions of children in the Philippines.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for Filipino children under the age of 5. Currently the vaccine is priced at $45 per child, which is too costly for the Philippine government to make the vaccine accessible for all Filipino children.

The "A FAIR SHOT" campaign calls on pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer to slash the price of the pneumococcal vaccine in developing countries to US$5 per child, so more children can be protected from this childhood killer, and to disclose what they currently charge countries for the vaccine.

Worldwide, nearly one million children die from pneumonia every year.

For years, MSF has been trying to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GSK, which charge well above the cost to make the vaccine.

"The pneumonia vaccine is the world's best-selling vaccine, and last year alone, Pfizer brought in more than US$6 billion dollars in sales just for this product," said Greg Elder, Medical Coordinator for the MSF Access Campaign.

"Due to the high price charged by the companies, many countries where millions of children risk getting pneumonia simply can't afford it, and for countries such as the Philippines the high price threatens sustainability of the vaccination program," he added.

Best-selling, but pricey

Part of the reason vaccination has become so costly is linked to the fact that very little information on vaccine pricing is available, leaving many developing countries and humanitarian agencies to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies from a very weak position, with no way to compare prices.

Some countries have to sign confidentiality clauses that prevent them from disclosing the price they pay for their vaccines.

Increasing information on vaccine pricing would allow countries to better compare prices and negotiate better deals to vaccinate their children.

MSF and NextDayBetter believe that pharmaceutical companies won't share their cost structures unless governments and people put tremendous pressure on them to do so, which is why they are urging people to sign the petition and ask Pfizer and GSK to reveal the prices they charge.

NextDayBetter is an events and digital media company focused on connecting members of the Philippine diaspora and calling them to action for social causes. In partnering with NextDayBetter, MSF hopes to leverage the collective influence of the global Filipino community and gain further support on the issue.

"The Philippine diaspora is very involved in the provision of healthcare on this continent, while being extremely well aware about the situation at home. Together, we think we could encourage Pfizer and GSK to reduce the price of the vaccine, and speak out against high vaccine prices in the Philippines," said Elder.

To increase awareness about the pneumonia crisis in the Philippines, NextDayBetter will be launching a storytelling campaign that humanizes the people affected by this issue and highlights the work of Filipinos who are dedicated to improving the quality of public health in the Philippines.

The campaign will be launching on NextDayBetter's multimedia platforms with the intent of inspiring and empowering the Philippine diaspora to take action in effecting change in their homeland.

"The Philippine diaspora is overflowing with incredibly talented nurses, doctors, and other leaders in public health who have pioneered breakthroughs in healthcare," said Ryan Letada, CEO of NextDayBetter.

"We have saved so many people around the world, now we need to focus on our own community back home." – Rappler.com