Access to medicines

When free is not fair: the case of vaccine donations

Read the complete journal article When free is not fair: the case of vaccine donations in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

MSF's Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) is pleased to announce the publication of the article “When free is not fair: the case of vaccine donations” by James Smith in The Lancet Infectious Diseases (Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 128-130).

On 10 October  2015, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) rejected Pfizer's proposed donation of 1 million doses of its branded pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). The news caused a stir in the global health community; after all, free essential health goods might be considered something to be celebrated.

This decision represents the latest development in a prolonged advocacy campaign spearheaded by MSF, which aims to reduce the cost of PCV, and presents a timely opportunity to examine the case for vaccine donations. In their rejection of Pfizer’s offer, MSF cited several concerns related to the donation of pharmacological agents - namely, conditions attached to donation agreements, the sustainability of programmes dependent on donations, and the deleterious effect of donations on the incentive to reduce prices.

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Press Release 14 November 2016