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Home Health Health New cervical cancer vaccine price cuts to save millions Of Girls In Developing Countries

New cervical cancer vaccine price cuts to save millions Of Girls In Developing Countries

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A new record low price for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines will help ensure millions of girls in developing countries can be protected against cervical cancer.

Thanks to the GAVI Alliance, the poorest countries will now have access to a sustainable supply of HPV vaccines for as low as US$ 4.50 per dose. The same vaccines can cost more than $100 in developed countries and the previous lowest public sector price was $13 per dose.

HPV vaccines are primarily available as part of routine immunisation to girls in relatively wealthy countries. And yet of the 275,000 women in the world who die of cervical cancer every year, more than 85% are in low-income countries, where the incidence of HPV infection is higher and few women have access to screening and treatment.

“A vast health gap currently exists between girls in rich and poor countries. With GAVI’s programmes we can begin to bridge that gap so that all girls can be protected against cervical cancer no matter where they are born,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “By 2020 we hope to reach more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries. 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.”

Today’s announcement was made possible through GAVI’s innovative public-private partnership model, which was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2000 to meet the challenges of getting vaccines out to some of the least wealthy developing countries. GAVI’s recent market shaping activities have also achieved significant reductions for pentavalent and rotavirus vaccines while simultaneously helping to create healthier and more secure markets for vaccines.

GAVI will begin support for HPV vaccines in Kenya as early as this month followed by Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and the United Republic of Tanzania.

As these demonstration programmes reach pre-adolescents – a group not currently targeted for immunisation -- they will give each country the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to put in place the systems needed to run national programmes. GAVI will also support HPV vaccines for nationwide use in Rwanda next year. The immunisation of girls aged nine to 13 also provides an opportunity to reach adolescents with education programmes on nutrition, sexual health and HIV prevention.

As well as bringing down dramatically the price of the HPV vaccines, GAVI has also helped to halve the time lag that can exist in getting new vaccines out to poor countries, down to just six years.

Since GAVI began accepting applications for HPV vaccines support in 2012 it has received unprecedented demand, with 15 countries applying last year and a further 15 to 20 expected this year.

”Developing countries bear an increasing burden of cervical cancer and it is only right that our girls should have the same protection as girls in other countries,” said Dr Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the East African Community, GAVI Board member and former Health Minister of Rwanda. “In Africa, where facilities to diagnose and treat cervical cancer are few and far between, HPV vaccines will mean the difference between life and death for so many women in the prime of their lives.”

“Vaccinating girls against HPV can be a key component of a national strategy to prevent and control cervical cancer across a woman’s life course,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at the World Health Organization. “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.”

UNICEF as procurement partner for the GAVI Alliance have run a public tender process and will now purchase HPV vaccines from Merck & Co. at $4.50 per dose and from GlaxoSmithKline at $4.60 per dose for the award period, 2013-2017. Additionally, Merck has agreed to extend significantly lower prices to GAVI if total volumes increase in the future.

The market shaping efforts of the GAVI Alliance work to address market failures for vaccines by aggregating volume,  increasing certainty of demand, stimulating competition where possible and ensuring that a sufficient quantity of appropriate, quality vaccines is available through a diverse manufacturer base at affordable and sustainable prices.

With this price agreement now in place the GAVI Alliance Secretariat will work with partners to implement the GAVI HPV Vaccine Programme. Among stakeholders involved are the World Health Organization, PATH, UNICEF, UNFPA, National Cancer Institute, World Bank, Union for International Cancer Control, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, UNAIDS, International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the US Centers for Disease Control.

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