WHO Approves Cervical Cancer Vaccine Cervarix
July 10, 2009
The World Health Organization has approved GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Cervarix, paving the way for UN agencies and partners to buy the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for poor countries worldwide.
Certain HPV strains are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. Of the 280,000 cervical cancer deaths globally, more than 80 percent occur in developing countries. Screening and treatment programs have dramatically reduced the disease's incidence in developed countries.
Last year, GAVI, formerly known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, made purchasing cervical cancer vaccines for the world's 73 poorest countries a priority. GAVI, comprising the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UN agencies, and the World Bank among others, is a major buyer of vaccines for the developing world.
Though it has not been approved for use in the United States or Japan, Cervarix is available in 97 other countries. The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether to approve Cervarix in the coming months. Currently, the only HPV vaccine available for the US market is Merck & Co.'s Gardasil. Cervarix has won more contracts from government health programs beyond the United States.
Both vaccines typically cost around $360 for a three-shot dose. It is not clear whether GSK will discount Cervarix for distribution in poor countries.
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