updated 3/23/2010 3:09:02 PM ET 2010-03-23T19:09:02

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer Inc. made a 10-year commitment to supply developing nations with new pneumonia vaccines, the Geneva-based public-private partnership GAVI Alliance said Tuesday.

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GAVI’s program to treat pneumococcal disease received initial funding of $1.5 billion from the governments of Italy, the U.K., Canada, Russia, Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Today’s landmark announcement promises to make new vaccines available affordably, where they are urgently needed, and faster than ever before,” said GAVI CEO Julian Lob-Levyt.

Pneumococcal disease, which includes pneumonia, takes the lives of 1.6 million people each year including approximately 800,000 children before their fifth birthday, according to GAVI. More than 90 percent of the deaths are in developing countries, with pneumonia accounting for one in every four child deaths.

GAVI set up the Advance Market Commitment program to get drugs to those in need, saying affordable vaccines could save 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to 7 million lives by 2030.

Glaxo and Pfizer will supply 30 million doses each, per year, for a 10-year period. The vaccines will be sold at $7 per dose initially, but prices then drop to $3.50 per dose for the most of the commitment. GAVI and the receiving nations will pay for the vaccine.

GAVI said the total is a fraction of the current cost of pneumococcal vaccines in many industrialized countries.

Pfizer will supply Prevenar 13, which is approved for use in infants and young children in more than 40 countries. The company said it is boosting manufacturing capacity to meet global demand.

“Pfizer is dedicated to broadening access around the world to our medicines, and public-private partnerships such as the one involving the Advance Market Commitment are critical to achieving true inroads on this front,” said Pfizer Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Kindler, in a statement.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline said it is supplying Synflorix and said it had invested more than $400 million in a dedicated manufacturing plant in Singapore to make hundreds of millions of doses in the coming years.

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