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Drug giants in third-world pledge


Two of the world’s biggest drug companies have pledged to supply developing nations with affordable pneumonia vaccines over the next decade in a bid to save millions of lives.

Geneva-based public-private partnership GAVI Alliance announced that GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have agreed to sign up to the Advance Market Commitment programme – which aims to get drugs to those most in need.

GAVI’s attempts to treat pneumococcal disease, which includes pneumonia, received initial funding of about £1 billion from the UK, Italy, Canada, Russia, Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The chief executive of GAVI, Julian Lob-Levyt, said: “Today’s landmark announcement promises to make new vaccines available affordably, where they are urgently needed, and faster than ever before.”

Pneumococcal disease kills about 1.6 million people each year including 800,000 children before they reach five years old, according to GAVI. More than 90% of the deaths are in developing countries, many in Africa and Asia, with pneumonia accounting for one in every four child deaths.

GAVI said affordable vaccines could save 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to seven million lives by 2030.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

<> (Gavi Alliance)

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