News / Africa

Record Low Price for HPV Vaccine

Lauren Fant, left, 18, winces as she has her third and final application of the HPV vaccine administered by nurse Stephanie Pearson at a doctor's office Tuesday, Dec. 18 2007, in Marietta, Ga. This groundbreaking vaccine that prevents cervical cancer in g
Lauren Fant, left, 18, winces as she has her third and final application of the HPV vaccine administered by nurse Stephanie Pearson at a doctor's office Tuesday, Dec. 18 2007, in Marietta, Ga. This groundbreaking vaccine that prevents cervical cancer in g

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Millions of girls in developing countries could soon have access to a vaccine that protects against cervical cancer. The GAVI Alliance has announced a record low price for the HPV vaccine. The announcement was made Thursday at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town. Despite the lower price, one group believes the cost is still too high.


About 275,000 women die of cervical cancer every year. Most of them are in developing countries. The HPV vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus that causes the majority of cases. The virus is sexually transmitted and can remain in the body for years before cancer develops.

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, a public/private partnership focusing on immunization, said, “Cervical caner is a disease that in most of the wealthy countries is able to be diagnosed using very simple technology and is able to be treated if people have early cancers. We have a triple whammy in these countries where they have a higher incidence of disease. They don’t have the diagnostic test available and they don’t have treatment. So this is a disease that is killing women in the prime of their life.”

Berkley said that if no prevention measures are taken, the annual death toll could rise to about 500,000 in the coming decades. The vaccine is generally given to girls between the ages of 9 and 13.

“We hope to take this vaccine by 2020 to 30 million girls in more than 40 countries,” he said.

GAVI launches that effort with demonstration programs in Kenya -- followed by Ghana, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. Rwanda may soon start using the HPV vaccine as part of its national immunization campaign.

All that’s possible, said Berkley, due to an agreement with the Merck and GSK pharmaceutical companies. They will sell the vaccine for $4.50 and $4.60 per dose respectively. The vaccine costs more than $100 in developed countries. The best public sector price before now has been $13 per dose.

The cost for developing countries will be based on a sliding-scale at the outset. As they grow economically, they will eventually bear the full cost.

“As a physician, I of course have seen in many countries this very sad scenario, where people present and all we can do is provide pain control. So this is a really big deal for these countries,” he said.

Dr. Berkley said that the goal is to get more vaccine manufacturers involved and eventually drive down the price further.

Not everyone is happy about the price of the vaccine. The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, says the cost is still too high. Kate Elder, Vaccines Policy Advisor for the MSF Access Campaign, said, “We think that there could have been a better deal struck for HPV vaccines for these countries. We know that pharmaceutical companies will still be making a very healthy profit off of these vaccines. They have already long recuperated their initial R&D investments. And so why is additional profit being made off the back of the poorest countries? And this is really kind of calling into question the sustainability of introducing some of these vaccines in countries that are so poor and have very fragile health systems.”

Elder said that the cost of new vaccines that are recommended by the World Health Organization has been steadily rising, placing a strain on poor countries. She added that Merck made over $1.6 billion dollars last year from its HPV vaccine, while GSK earned $416 million.

“Precisely, how much does it cost to develop HPV vaccine and how much does it cost to manufacture every dose of HPV? We don’t know. And that’s difficult when you’re talking about affordability and what is reasonable in terms of price reductions,” she said.

Doctors without Borders has called on the pharmaceutical companies to be more transparent about research and development. She says much of the initial R&D for vaccines was done in public institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health. NIH is funded by taxpayers. What’s more, it said the cost for immunizing each girl is really $14 because three doses of the vaccine are needed for full immunization.

GAVI’s Dr. Berkley has responded to the group’s concerns. He said, “Of course we agree that we would like to get the lowest prices that are possible for these vaccines. Now, one of the challenges [is] of course that we have to have a healthy vaccine market. And so what that means for that to have supply security there should be more than one manufacturer that’s supplying vaccine. And in the process of scaling up we are going to have to deal with vaccines that aren’t as inexpensive as we would like.”

Last year, 15 countries applied for the vaccine and GAVI expects another 15 to apply this year.

In developed countries, the risk for cervical cancer is frequently determined by using the Pap test or Pap smear. It examines cells from the cervix and can detect whether they are pre-cancerous. The test is not widely available in many developing countries, preventing treatment at a very early stage of the disease.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid