Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has urged GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer to reduce the price of the pneumococcal vaccine to $5 per child in developing countries.

The humanitarian-aid non-governmental organisation has released the second edition of its vaccine pricing report, ‘The Right Shot: Bringing Down Barriers to Affordable and Adapted Vaccines’, which noted that the price to vaccinate a child is now 68 times more expensive than it was in 2001, in the poorest countries.

Most of the developing nations are not in a position to afford new high-priced vaccines such as those for pneumococcal disease, which claims around one million children each year.

"The price to fully vaccinate a child is 68 times more expensive than it was just over a decade ago ."

MSF access campaign policy and analysis director Rohit Malpani said: "The price to fully vaccinate a child is 68 times more expensive than it was just over a decade ago, mainly because a handful of big pharmaceutical companies are overcharging donors and developing countries for vaccines that already earn them billions of dollars in wealthy countries.

"Donors will be asked to put an additional $7.5bn on the table to pay for vaccines in poor countries for the next five years, with over one third of that going to pay for one vaccine alone, the high-priced pneumococcal vaccine; just think of how much further taxpayer money could go to vaccinate more children if vaccines were cheaper."

At present, the pneumococcal vaccine alone accounts for roughly 45% of the total cost, noted MSF.

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Both the drug makers jointly reported around $19bn sales across the globe for the pneumococcal vaccine since its launch.

MSF is calling both the firms to slash the pneumococcal vaccine price to $5 per child, which is only slightly less than the $6 price target ($2/dose) announced by the Indian manufacturer Serum Institute for a version it plans to launch in the market in the next few years.