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Glaxo's HPV Vaccine Price Reduction: TAC Urges Caution

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At a press conference last month, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) called for price deductions on the two Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection, and some strains of the disease cause cervical cancer. In South Africa, cervical cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer. Approximately 7,000 women develop cervical cancer each year, and approximately one in 26 women in South Africans will develop cervical cancer in her lifetime1.

But cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease. If women are given access to the HPV vaccine in the public health sector, they can be protected from the disease that causes cervical cancer. Unfortunately, the vaccines manufactured by Glaxo and MSD are far too expensive for South African women to afford, and arguably too costly for the government to purchase for public roll-out.

TAC therefore launched a campaign to reduce the prices of the drug, and our campaign has met with its first success. On Wednesday 3 December, we learnt that GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the HPV vaccine Cervarix, has agreed to reduce the price of the vaccine by 36%, to R450 per dose. Three doses of the vaccine are required to protect women from the two strains of HPV which the vaccine targets.

TAC welcomes the announcement, but there are three major issues to consider:

  • Glaxo's vaccine, Cervarix, protects against only two cancer-causing strains of HPV, while MSD's vaccine, Gardasil, protects against two cancer-causing strains of HPV and two additional strains of HPV which are known to cause 95% of genital warts globally. Because all four of these strains of HPV are very common in South Africa, MSD's vaccine is more effective, ensuring greater protection against HPV infection.
  • Glaxo's reduction in price to R450 per dose of the vaccine is still far too expensive for South Africa to afford. Three doses of the vaccine are required, which means that a full vaccination will cost R1 350. This is more than what Glaxo and Merck offered to the Mexican government when the tenders were granted there.
  • A pilot acceptability study must be conducted to assess how a public HPV Vaccines programme could be implemented.

A public roll-out of the HPV vaccine to target 80% of girls aged 9 – 12 would need to reach 1,567,560 girls at present, and more than 520,000 per year in the future. The roll-out will be expensive, but this vital public health initiative will avert the high costs incurred by treating an epidemic of cervical cancer patients in future years.

It is the health and human right of South African women to be given access to a medicine which protects us from a largely preventable cancer. However, continuing high prices for the vaccine put this essential medical intervention out of the reach of the great majority of South Africans.

TAC calls for MSD to follow Glaxo's lead, and to reduce the price of Gardasil to R150 per dose.

TAC calls for the Health Department to review the current HPV screening guidelines, and to implement a national HPV vaccines.

1. Guidozzi F. "The HPV vaccine – What the nurse practitioner needs to know", Professional Nursing Today (Jul/Aug 2008), Vol. 12, No. 4


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Thank you very much indeed. For informing about this topic

I don't buy this cervical

I don't buy this cervical cancer bull. Sounds like another ploy to further intoxicate our already polluted bodies. Just another ploy to put more money into the pockets of the pharma companies.

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"approximately one in 26

"approximately one in 26 women in South Africans will develop cervical cancer in her lifetime" How does this ratio compare to other countries around the world? It seems quite high to me. Is there any fund or charity that collections donations for things like this?

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Nice to see that someone is

Nice to see that someone is interested on Human Papilloma Virus...


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This is

I just pray that there will be a lot of donations _for these people's meds. It is our firm belief that in the long-run the volumes generated by global_ access will ensure a reasonable profit for your shareholders... eKalem, prefabrik evler Prefabrik evler.

This judgment unequivocally

This judgment unequivocally establishes the duty of the state to enforce the scientific governance of medicines as defined in the Medicines and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 (hereafter referred to as the ‘Medicines Act’). This case has demonstrated how the Minister of Health has wilfully obstructed the rule of law and promoted pseudoscience, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of many people. We call on the President and the ANC to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law by immediately relieving the Minister of her duties Analytical Essay and Admission Essay.

This is a request to reduce

This is a request to reduce the price of the vaccine to $10.00 for all non-OECD countries. It is our firm belief that in the long-run the volumes generated by global access will ensure a reasonable profit for your shareholders. But, above all, this will save countless lives of women and girls now.

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I feel bad for these people.

I feel bad for these people. That is why i really appreciate volunteers who go here such as doctors and nurses who gives services for free. I just pray that there will be a lot of donations for these people's meds.

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