Major pharmaceutical companies have promised to make cuts to the amounts they charge for their vaccines in the developing world, The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) has announced.

GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Panacea Biotec and Serum Institute have all agreed to lower the prices of their vaccines ahead of a conference in London next week, where political leaders will consider how to raise funds for immunisation.

GlaxoSmithKline has committed to supply 125 million doses of rotavirus vaccine Rotarix to GAVI over the next five years at a 95% discount of the Western market price.

It is estimated that more than half a million children die of rotavirus gastroenteritis each year.

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty said, “Whilst most babies in the world will get rotavirus at some point, those in developing countries do not have access to the medical care they need which means millions of babies die unnecessarily.

“By working in partnership with others including governments, international agencies, NGOs and developing countries, we can find innovative ways to accelerate access to vaccines that are urgently needed by children living in these countries.”

Merck has said it will offer its rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, at a reduced price of $5 per dose. This price will be lowered to $3.50 once 30 million doses have been sold.

Merck Vaccines president Dr Julie Gerberding said, “Long-term purchase commitments help accelerate the future availability of vaccines. Confirming volumes to be purchased will enable further price reductions as manufacturers expand production and lower costs in the future allowing for greater access.”

Indian firms Panacea Biotec and Serum Institute have pledged to lower the price of pentavalent vaccines to GAVI to protect people against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B.

GAVI donors will meet in London on 13 June, where UK Prime Minister David Cameron will promote a plan to raise a further £2.25bn in global aid.