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Indian supply drives down the cost of childhood vaccine

LONDON (Reuters) - The cost of immunizing children in developing countries with a five-in-one vaccine is set to fall after a deal by an Indian supplier to slash the price it charges the GAVI global vaccines group.

The agreement between Biological E and the GAVI Alliance, which funds bulk-buy vaccination programs for poor nations, highlights the growing role of India's low-cost drugs sector in supplying products around the world.

India's staunch support for its generics sector has led to clashes with Western pharmaceutical companies, most recently following a high-profile defeat for Novartis in a cancer drug patent case this month.

GAVI said on Thursday that Biological E would sell the pentavalent shot for $1.19 per dose, compared to a 2012 weighted average price of $2.17, saving it up to $150 million over the next four years.

The five-in-one vaccine is the most widely used by GAVI. It protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib).

GAVI also buys the shot from Johnson & Johnson's Crucell, GlaxoSmithKline, LG Life Sciences and Serum Institute of India.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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