Manufacturer drops price of vaccine in drive to halt cancer

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

The price of the cervical cancer vaccine known as Cervarix has been decreased by 36percent from today. The announcement was made by the manufacturer of the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline, at the launch of their cervical cancer vaccination drive yesterday.

David Pritchard, general manager of GlaxoSmithKline South Africa, pledged the unequivocal support of the company to the cervical cancer drive.

"The cost vaccine would be reduced with immediate effect. Instead of paying R750 a dose, women will now pay R450," Pritchard said.

"The initiative is in line with GlaxoSmithKline's commitment to fast-track the global accessibility of the cervical cancer vaccine. It is our vision to ensure that South African women across the age spectrum receive every possible protection from this preventable disease. In a developing country such like ours, affordability is an important issue and with this reduction in cost we will be bringing the cervical cancer vaccine within reach of many more South African women.

"In doing so we hope to work in close partnership with other stakeholders, including government. We are open to discussing access strategies, including pricing, with potential partners, including government," he said.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women, causing over 270000 deaths each year. Each year in South Africa approximately 6700 women will develop cervical cancer while an estimated 3700 die from it.

Cervical cancer occurs when infection by the human papillomavirus becomes persistent and progresses to cancer. Up to 80percent of sexually active women will acquire a HPV infection in their lifetime, with the risk of persistence increasing with age.

e-tv editor-in-chief Debora Patta, pictured, has endorsed the drive. Speaking at the launch, she said: "Like so many others, I never knew that more women develop and die of cervical cancer than any other type of cancer. Without doubt, the development of the vaccine represents a great step forward for women around the world. It is built on Nobel-recognised science and the women who most need it are either totally unaware of its existence or simply cannot access it."