By Lynne Taylor
For the first time, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has published the prices it pays manufacturers for vaccines.
UNICEF is the world’s biggest buyer of children’s medicines, and vaccines is its largest procurement activity, worth $757 million last year. The new policy brings it into line with other procurement agencies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which routinely publish the prices they pay for medical supplies, and UNICEF says it hopes to extend this new transparency to other purchases such as essential drugs.
The published list reveals considerable differences in the prices charged by different manufacturers, and observers are forecasting that donors will demand action to bring down the higher prices and that other procurement agencies will seek to obtain their supplies at the lowest prices obtained by UNICEF. A spokeswoman for the Fund was quoted by the New York Times as saying the decision to publish was made “in the hopes it will lead to a more competitive market and lower prices, especially for newer vaccines.”
“Transparency is a core principle in itself and will support governments and partners in making more informed decisions,” said Shanelle Hall, director of UNICEF’s supply division. “Transparency will also help foster a competitive, diverse supplier base for global public goods,” she added.