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Merck & Co and GSK offer discounted cervical vaccines to developing nations

Pharma companies team up with GAVI Alliance to provide Cervarix and Gardasil

Merck & Co and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will provide their respective vaccines for cervical cancer to some of the world's poorest countries at a massively discounted cost as part of commitment made to the GAVI Alliance.

GAVI – a non-profit organisation to improve access to immunisation for children in developing nations – says Merck will make its Gardasil vaccine available at a cost of $4.50 per dose and GSK will provide its Cervarix vaccine at a cost of $4.60 per dose.

The previous lowest public sector price for the vaccines was $13 per dose, while a dose can cost up to $100 in some developed nations.

UNICEF will act as GAVI's procurement partner to purchase the vaccines, both of which protect against the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a leading cause of cervical cancer in females.

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said the agreement will help bridge the “vast health gap” between rich and poor countries, with more than 85 per cent of the 275,000 women with cervical cancer based in low-income nations.

“By 2020 we hope to reach more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries,” said Dr Berkley. “This is a transformational moment for the health of women and girls across the world. We thank the manufacturers for working with us to help make this happen.”

The vaccines will begin to be distributed in Kenya this month, while Ghana, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania will also soon receive the products.

They will be available as part of national programmes targeting girls aged nine to 13, and education programmes on nutrition, sexual health and HIV prevention will also be provided.

Dr Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at the World Health Organization (WHO), praised the availability of the vaccines and their potential as part of national public health efforts.

She said: “This new price reduction is a great step forward for women and girls: we look forward to working with countries to incorporate the HPV vaccine into their national immunisation programmes.”

The agreement adds to existing efforts from both Merck and GSK to provide their vaccines to people in developing nations.

Merck has already announced plans to donate 460,000 doses of Gardasil to Uganda and has partnered with Qiagen to launch a cervical cancer prevention program in Rwanda incorporating both HPV vaccination and HPV testing.

GSK has an existing relationship with GAVI, and has agreements in place to provide rotavirus vaccine Rotarix and pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine Synflorix to the Alliance at reduced prices for use in developing nations.

10th May 2013

From: Sales, Healthcare

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