Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Vaccine price transparency

Vaccine price information available in the public domain is predominantly limited to the tender price or weighted average price achieved by large procurement mechanisms such as UNICEF Supply Division (SD) and the PAHO Revolving Fund (RF). Both mechanisms purchase vaccines at a comparatively low price because of the guaranteed funding and large volumes procured. The contractual terms for UNICEF and PAHO are not applicable to individual country procurement agencies and therefore individual country purchase prices are not directly comparable.

While PAHO prices are available for all member states utilizing the PAHO mechanism, the UNICEF published prices are available to UNICEF supported country programmes, Least Developed Countries, Low Income Countries and donor supported countries. Prices for countries outside of these groups may differ and are not currently published.

Some information on vaccine prices is also available from individual countries, building on the legal obligation in many countries to publish awarded prices when using government funds. However, prices are not always reported in relation to specific contractual terms and procurement procedures. Individual country contracts may vary and additional or different terms may apply to different countries. The differences between individual contexts may not always be evident when comparing prices.

The comparison of published prices can be challenging as the published information may or may not explicitly state all the individual components of the price. In addition to the manufacturers’ selling price, published prices may include:

  • International and domestic freight and insurance;
  • Quality assurance costs;
  • Port, customs, inspection and quarantine charges;
  • Storage;
  • Procuring entity fees;
  • Local Agent costs and fees;
  • Taxes (national, state, local);
  • Importer, wholesaler and retail mark-up;
  • Other goods and services;
  • Dispensing fees, etc.

Impact of increased pricing and procurement complexity on price transparency

Vaccine pricing is becoming increasingly complex. More complex contractual conditions, including bundling of products, discounts and rebates, assured volumes, price change triggers, etc. are designed to secure better pricing and vaccine supply but at the same time create more complicated purchase agreements that make it harder to disaggregate all price components.

For certain traditional EPI vaccines, the shift from annual transactional procurement to more complex strategic and longer term procurement and financial arrangements may have resulted in more secure supply but less transparent prices.

Given the complexity of price information, meaningful comparisons between prices may be challenging. In order to conduct meaningful price comparisons between different procurement systems, access to more un-biased vaccine price information, disaggregated into individual components, is needed.

The V3P project

The WHO Vaccine Product, Price and Procurement (V3P) project has been designed to facilitate the appropriate comparison of price information and to provide countries with accurate, reliable and useful data on vaccine product, price and procurement. The project is developing an information mechanism in the public domain that provides reliable, accurate and un-biased information on vaccine price components, allowing for increased price transparency in procurement processes and more informed decision making for the implementation of vaccine introductions.

Target audience of the V3P project are decision makers and managers of immunization programmes in middle-income and GAVI-graduating countries, and those providing advice, data and evidence for informed decisions on sustainable vaccine program implementation. The anticipated outcome of the project is improved knowledge and utilization of information allowing for increased and sustainable access to new and priority vaccines.