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Serum - Protection from birth onwards

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 The Times of India

City's Serum Institute plays vital role in saving lives

Cyrus Poonawalla news

Bill Gates and British Prime Minister David Cameron praise Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla & Serum Institute for cutting vaccine prices

Helps Counter High Rates, Offers Vaccines at Low Prices

Times News Network
Pune: The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) is expecting pricing and supply support from vaccine manufacturers which will enable the alliance to immunise an additional 243 million children and save four million lives, by providing new vaccines to tackle the main children-killers - pneumonia and diarrhoea - and by launching Japanese Encephalitis, rubella and typhoid vaccines.

Nearly two million children in the worlds poorest countries die from preventable diseases every year because they do not have access to life-saving vaccines. The GAVI was established in 2000 to save children's lives by expanding immunisation in poor countries. In its first ten years, GAVI-financed programs have immunised more than 280 million children, thereby saving more than five million lives.

Saving Childrens Lives: GAVI Alliance Pledging Conference for Immunisation was held in London on Monday in which city-based vaccine major Serum Institute of India has participated.

The objective of the conference was to bring together GAVI donors and partners. Vaccine manufacturers were specifically invited to demonstrate their active contribution to counter the financing challenge and making significant pricing and/or supply announcements.

This year, Serum has offered GAVI the pentavalent vaccine at $1.75 per dose.
The vaccine was purchased by GAVI a couple of years ago at more than $3/dose.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman and managing director, Serum Institute of India, said: The mission to further children's health in developing countries had been at the heart of the institutes business model right from when we started manufacturing life-saving vaccines at the lowest affordable prices and providing them to UNICEF and PAHO.

Over the last 20 years, we have established ourselves as the most reliable and largest WHO pre-qualified vaccine producer in the world for the measles and measles-rubella combined vaccines, and the diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and hepatitis-B combined vaccine. These vaccines have been offered approximately at the cost of a cup of tea to UN agencies, GAVI and other countries, especially India. Recently, we have donated about 12 million doses of the measles-rubella vaccine to countries such as Laos and Uzbekistan and supplied 18.5 million doses at a 50 per cent discounted rate to the Philippines in conjunction with the WHO/UNICEF, Poonawalla said.

Over the last eight years, the Serum Institute has worked with partners to develop a new meningitis A vaccine for outbreaks in the sub-Saharan region. Based on a new conjugate technology, the vaccine has the potential to provide long-lasting protection against the disease. Already, several million doses have been successfully used in the region at less than 50 cents per dose, Poonawalla said.

This year the institute has offered GAVI the pentavalent vaccine at $1.75 per dose. The vaccine was purchased by GAVI a couple of years ago at more than $3 per dose. This is the most affordable vaccine offered by any manufacturer in the world, he added.

The SII recognises its moral responsibility to keep these vaccines as affordable as possible, albeit allowing for oil price-driven inflation, Poonawala said, adding, The institute is also developing affordable vaccines for GAVI countries against Rotavirus and Pneumococcal diseases. We hope to achieve WHO pre-qualification for these vaccines in the near future. My message to the donors is to ensure that there is long-term funding in place beyond 2015 to meet the need for vaccines in the most vulnerable countries.