Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Second HPV Vaccine Approved by WHO

Last week the World Health Organization announced that it had approved a second cervical cancer vaccine. Known as Cervarix, this new vaccine is produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and will supplement the original HPV Vaccine Gardasil, which is produced by Merck, in helping to prevent new HPV infections and subsequent cases of cervical cancer.

The approval of Cervarix allows U.N. agencies and their partners to be able to buy millions of doses of the vaccine for poor countries, where 80% of the 280,000 annual cervical cancer deaths occur each year. Without early screening, women in developing countries often find that HPV, which is often treatable, has already led to cervical cancer. By being able to offer these women a vaccine, they will be able to protect themselves against the HPV virus, and subsequently from the resulting cervical cancer which often present itself, and tens of thousands of lives will be saved.

As of now, cost arrangements are still under negotiation. GAVI, formerly known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization prioritized the purchase of cervical cancer vaccines for the world's poorest countries last year, and is currently in talks with both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the hopes of lowering the vaccines cost for developing countries. In the West, both vaccines typically run about $360 for a three shot dose, but if Cervarix is to make any sort of dent in the 80% of infections occurring in poor countries, costs will have to be drastically reduced.

As of now, Cervarix is not available in either the U.S. or Japan. Gardasil has dominated the U.S. market since its approval in 2006, but the FDA is expected to decide within the next few months whether to approve Cervarix for U.S. markets. If approved, donors will hopefully be able to purchase the vaccine at a reduced cost in order to aid women in poor countries.

To read more about the vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix, click here:

To learn more about HPV and Cervical Cancer visit:

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