Prices Cut for Cervical Cancer Vaccines for Neediest

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Published: May 9, 2013

The two companies that make vaccines against cervical cancer announced Thursday that they would cut their prices to the world’s poorest countries below $5 per dose, eventually making it possible for millions of girls to be protected against a major cancer killer.

Thanks to Pap tests, fatal cervical cancers are almost unknown today in rich countries. But the disease kills an estimated 275,000 women a year in poor countries where Pap tests are impractical and the vaccine is far too expensive for the average woman to afford, so the price cut could lead to a significant advance in women’s health.

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The low price will initially apply to a few million doses for demonstration projects in Kenya, Ghana, Laos, Madagascar and elsewhere, but Dr. Seth Berkley, the alliance’s chief executive officer, said he hoped that by 2020, 30 million girls in 40 countries would get the vaccine at that price or less.

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Dr. Peter J. Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, said the vaccine should cost more to make than, for example, measles vaccine because it contains “viruslike particles” made through recombinant DNA technology rather than a virus simply grown in cells and then killed. Also, it protects against several HPV strains, while there is only one measles strain.

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