The World Health Organisation has approved a cervical cancer
vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline, meaning UN agencies and partners
can now officially buy millions of doses of the vaccine for poor
GlaxoSmithKline PLC said in a statement Thursday the approval
would help speed access to Cervarix globally.
More than 80% of the estimated 280 000 cervical cancer
deaths a year occur in developing countries. In the West, early
diagnosis and treatment has slashed the disease's incidence.
Last year, the global health association GAVI, formerly known as
the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, prioritised the
purchase of cervical cancer vaccines for the world's 73 poorest
countries. GAVI includes UN agencies, the World Bank and the Bill
& Melinda Gates foundation and is a major buyer of vaccines for the
FDA still to approve vaccine
"Cervarix can save millions of women's lives throughout the
world, but only if it reaches those who need it most," said Jean
Stephenne, President of GSK Biologicals.
Cervarix has not been approved for use in the US or Japan, but
is available in 97 other countries. In the US, the cervical
cancer vaccine market has been cornered by Gardasil since it was
approved in 2006. Gardasil is made by Merck & Co. The vaccines
typically cost about R3 600 for a three-shot dose.
The FDA is expected to decide within the next few months whether
to approve Cervarix. Gardasil racked up $426 million in global
sales in the most recent quarter, versus $69 million for Cervarix,
which has won more contracts from government health programmes beyond
the United States.
It was unclear whether GSK might make Cervarix available at a
cheaper price to UN agencies buying it for poor countries. – (Sapa, July 2009)
No prescription for HPV vaccine