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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora