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Countries, Gates Commit $1.5 Billion To Vaccines

by Ann M. Thayer
June 22, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 25

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governments of Italy, Canada, Russia, Norway, and the U.K. have delivered $1.5 billion to the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) program. Run by the World Bank, GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, and WHO, the program is designed to accelerate the rollout of vaccines in developing countries by committing money to buy the drugs at a set price. The idea is that companies will see a viable future market and develop new vaccines, although to participate, they must agree to supply the vaccines at lower prices after the donor funds are spent. The first AMC targets pneumococcal diseases, which claim 1.6 million lives every year. The medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders calls the program's objective laudable, but questions whether the approach will leave room for suppliers in developing countries. And an AMC might help expand production and provide vaccines in some developing countries, but it will not trigger the needed research, DWB maintains. "This pneumo-AMC was not about innovation—only about creating incentives for increasing the production of a vaccine that was coming to the market anyway," says Tido von Schoen-Angerer, director of DWB's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.


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