Advance market commitment for pneumococcal vaccines: putting theory into practice

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Markets for life-saving vaccines do not often generate the most desired outcomes from a public health perspective in terms of product quantity, quality, affordability, programmatic suitability and/or sustainability for use in the lowest income countries. The perceivedrisks and uncertainties about sustainably funded demand from developing countries often leads to underinvestment in development and manufacturing of appropriate products. The pilot initiative Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for pneumococcal vaccines, launched in2009, aims to remove some of these market risks by providing a legally binding forward commitment to purchase vaccines according to predetermined terms. To date, 14 countries have already introduced pneumococcal vaccines through the AMC with a further 39 countries expected to introduce before the end of 2013.

This paper describes early lessons learnt on the selection of a target disease and the core design choices for the pilot AMC. It highlights the challenges faced with tailoring the AMC design to the specific supply situation of pneumococcal vaccines. It points to the difficulty – and the AMC’s apparent early success – in establishing a long-term, credible commitment in a constantly changing unpredictable environment.It highlights one of the inherent challenges of the AMC: its dependence on continuous donor funding to ensure long-term purchases of products. The paper examines alternative design choices and aims to provide a starting point to inform discussions and encourage debate about the potential application of the AMC concept to other fields.