Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Merck announced Thursday that they would be manufacturing and distributing their vaccines against cervical cancer in poor nations for under $5 per dose. Although this charitable move makes the vaccine more accessible to the poor on a global scale, it is met with several opinions from how encouraging the vaccine would impact young girls, to the price still not being low enough.
Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization that provides assistance in more than 60 countries, was disappointed in the news, saying the companies should have lowered the prices more and that profit should not be a goal.
Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, thinks otherwise. According to him, cervical cancer vaccines’ manufacturing costs should not be compared to those of measles vaccines because the former is multi-strained and contains recombinant DNA.
Dr. Seth Berkley, GAVI Alliance’s chief executive explains the initial prices are a ceiling, and that the public may expect them to go even lower as orders increase and more competitors enter the market. According to The NY Times:
Dr. Berkley described the new prices as a ceiling, and said he expected them to go down as millions more doses were ordered and as rival vaccine makers from lower-cost countries like India and China entered the field. Other companies, including the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, are developing papillomavirus vaccines, but only the Glaxo and Merck vaccines now have approval from the World Health Organization.
Prominent researchers such as Dr. Hotez, however, continue to argue that, while governments in developing nations have increased their funding and resources toward fighting diseases in poor nations, more is needed to stamp out a wide range of neglected tropical diseases, or “NTDs,” as well as fighting various types of cancer such as cervical cancer. In addition to lowering the prices of vaccines for the developing world and increasing government funding, public outreach and awareness is also key as well. Reports such as this one help to educate the public and increase the developing world’s willingness to invest in the overall health of poor nations.
Further Reading: Check out other articles about Texas-based vaccine research on BioNews Texas.