GlaxoSmithKline Announced Approval of Experimental Malaria Vaccine

September 21st, 2015    Analysis

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline recently announced that their experimental vaccine Mosquirix (also known as RTS,S) has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, which is a major step toward access in Malaria endemic regions. Once Mosquirix passes the World Health Organization’s review it can be used within affected countries. GSK scientist Joe Cohen predicts “[The vaccine] will have an enormously significant public health impact.”

Mosquirix is designed specifically to fight malaria’s parasitic infection in children and has been shown to reduce cases of the disease by up to 50 percent when used in combination with other malaria control measures such as bed nets.

The vaccine will be entirely non-profit, being priced at production cost plus a small mark-up, which will be used to fund research toward more effective iterations of the drug. It will likely cost about $5 per injection and require four separate injections.

At $20 per treatment, extremely expensive for many individuals and governments alike, exceeding the per capita health spending of some countries (e.g. Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In comparison, mosquito nets cost an average of $3 and can last 3-4 years. Moreover, if enough of a population uses them they can lead to decreased prevalence, effectively protecting even those without nets. There is also the added logistical and financial challenge of getting families to return to health facilities for multiple injections.

Though this vaccine will not lead to the immediate eradication of malaria, it may be a significant step toward achieving that goal.

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Image Source: EU Reporter

Julius Torres Kellinghusen, HealthRight Intern