Vaccines for Africa 'face 700% mark-up'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Drugs companies could receive mark-ups of 700 per cent under a plan, spearheaded by Gordon Brown, to fund the development of a vaccine aimed at saving millions of children's lives in developing countries. Of £750m donated for the scheme 80 per cent will go in profits to the companies, according to one expert.

Under an "advance market commitment" governments in the developed world pay production costs, plus an agreed margin, to help provide incentives for the pharmaceuticals industry to develop such drugs.

The plan is to produce a vaccine for pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia, Africa's worst child-killer. US drugs giant Wyeth already manufactures the vaccine for Europe and America, creating a £1bn market in which it is about to be joined by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline. Since both companies have already developed vaccines to cover the strains most prevalent in Africa, critics say their costs will be negligible. Even though a hefty discount has been negotiated experts say millions more children could be treated if the industry accepted a lower margin.

Jonathan Miller's investigation into the vaccine plan will be broadcast on Channel 4 News tomorrow