Novartism still won’t disclose pricing information on its vaccines, Merck and Japan’s BCG Laboratory

For First Time, Unicef Reveals Differences in Prices It Pays Drug Companies for Vaccines By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. Published: May 27, 2011
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They stalled by saying they had to consult their lawyers about antitrust consequences, which is bogus argument. Unicef has now told all bidders that, in the future, it will publish how much it pays them. GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, collects billions of dollars from donors to help Unicef pay for vaccines. The United Nations Children’s Fund revealed wide disparities in what vaccine makers charge. Unicef paid $747 million for vaccines last year, buying over two billion doses for 58 percent of the world’s children. Officials of several pharmaceutical companies sit on GAVI boards. “As soon as the donors see the differentials, they’re going to insist that Unicef and GAVI get better prices.”
Some of the price differences were stark. For example, an important compound vaccine that prevents diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type B cost only $2.25 a dose from the Serum Institute of India last year, but $3.20 a dose from Crucell, a Swiss company that was just purchased by Johnson & Johnson.
“Oh my God,” Mr. Berman said when the new price list was read to him. “I had no idea the difference was so extreme. A dollar more? No wonder J & J bought Crucell. It gets 60 percent of its income from GAVI orders.”
GlaxoSmithKline was the lone bidder for the contract, it charged $3.60. (Ideally, every child gets three doses.)

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