GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced a 36% cut in the price of its cervical cancer vaccine, Cervarix, in South Africa as part of a major vaccination drive, according to a press release from the pharmaceutical company.
Speaking at the launch of the vaccination drive David Pritchard, general manager of GSK South Africa, pledged the unequivocal support of GSK to the cervical cancer drive.
He stated that the company was so committed to this cause that it would with immediate effect reduce the cost of its cancer vaccine, Cervarix, by 36 percent, or a cost of R450 per dose.
“This important initiative is in line with GSK’s commitment to fast track the global accessibility of the cervical cancer vaccine. It is our vision to ensure that South African women across the age spectrum receive every possible protection from this preventative disease. In a developing country such as South Africa affordability is an important issue and with this reduction in cost we will be bringing the cervical cancer vaccine within direct reach of many more South African women," he said.
"In doing so we hope to work in close partnership with other stakeholders including government to further increase the availability of cervical cancer vaccines through better infrastructure, wider distribution, better disease awareness, education and affordability. We are open to discussing access strategies including pricing with potential partners including government,” said Pritchard.
The vaccination drive launched today in Johannesburg is being championed by investigative journalist Debora Patta, and supported by leading experts such as gynaecologist Dr Peter Koll, said the GSK press release.
Commenting on the vaccination drive and the barriers to cancer vaccination, Debora Patta says, “Like so many other South African women and mothers, I never knew that more women develop and die of cervical cancer than any other type of cancer. Given the fact that worldwide a woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes, the dangers and impact of cervical cancer is shockingly high. To put this into perspective each year in South Africa alone approximately 6700 women will develop cervical cancer, while an estimated 3700 will die from it.
One in every 26 women in this country faces the risk of developing cervical cancer in her lifetime. In my mind that is one too many,” said Patta.
1 in 26 at risk
Adding his voice to that of Debora Patta and David Pritchard, Sandton-based gynaecologist Dr Peter Koll said that GSK’s decision to reduce the cost of the vaccine was a major breakthrough in the fight against cervical cancer. “It is one of the major health care discoveries of the early 2000s, and in my opinion is the single biggest advance in medicine in the time that I have been in practice,” Koll is quoted as saying in the GSK press release.
“As a practicing gynaecologist, I can tell you of the devastation and pain, and even about the unnecessary loss of life, that inevitably accompanies a prognosis of cervical cancer. Now we can at least start chipping away at the numbers of patients that are diagnosed with the disease. For that I applaud the cervical cancer vaccination drive.”
According to Koll protection strategies against cervical cancer should include routine screening together with a vaccine designed to provide long lasting protection against the most cancer causing types.” Vaccination should start as young as possible and in the case of young girls, should be viewed as the last of the childhood vaccinations.”
The cervical cancer vaccines are HPV vaccines indicated for the prevention of pre-cancerous cervical lesions associated with the most common cervical cancer-causing HPV types 16 and 18.
GSK's vaccine is competing with Merck's cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil – both of which have been registered for use in South Africa.
Various groups including the Cancer Association of South Africa and the Treatment Action Campaign has called for a cervical cancer vaccine to be made available in the public health system.
- (Health24, December 2008)
Source: Official GSK press release