Pharma giants cut HPV vaccine prices in developing world

Gardasil_vaccine_and_box web GSK and MSD (Merck in the US) will reduce the price of their HPV vaccines, which protect against cervical cancer, in the world’s poorest countries.

The two pharma giants have allied to help improve access to HPV prevention in parts of the world where about 275,000 women die from cervical cancer each year.

The low price, about $4.50 per dose, will initially apply to a few million doses made available in Kenya, Ghana, Laos and Madagascar.

The alliance aims to have made the vaccines available to protect 30 million girls in 40 countries by 2020.

In the US, where the vaccine costs $130 per dose, the Center for Disease Control has described the uptake rate as “unacceptably low”. The reduced prices may result in uptake rate in the world’s poorest countries exceeding the US rate.

Dr Seth Berkeley, the alliance’s CEO, described the reduced price as a “ceiling” and predicted that it would drop further due to generic competition from companies in India and China.

The lowest current price for HPV vaccines is $13, paid by the Pan American Health Organization, which supplies medicines to Latin American countries.

The impact of the HPV vaccines could be increased by giving them to younger girls: only two doses are needed to immunise girls aged 9–13, but three are needed for teenage girls.

Both GSK’s Cervarix and MSD’s Gardasil protect against the strands of HPV (human papilloma virus) that cause cervical cancer, though Gardasil also protects against genital warts.