Aiming for Canadian sales, GSK cuts Cervarix price

GlaxoSmithKline isn't cutting prices just in the developing world. The drugmaker has slashed the price tag on its cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix by 30 percent in Canada, hoping to boost sales volume there.

The pricing move was prompted by new research that showed the "relatively high price" of cervical cancer vaccines was one reason why most young Canadian women haven't opted to get the shots. Nine of 10 Canadian women aged 18 to 25 have not been vaccinated. That's quite an uptake gap, given that Cervarix has been available since February and Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil since 2006. Half of the young women surveyed and 61 percent of mothers said cost was a deterrent.

The list price on Cervarix will come down to $90 per dose from $134.95; three doses are recommended. "We've looked at the research and taken action to address the barrier where we were able to impact the most," GSK's Canadian chief Paul Lucas says in a statement.

The high cost of HPV vaccination has been criticized ever since Merck's Gardasil hit the market, but price didn't appear to be a deterrent, at least at first. But since an early surge of Gardasil sales, HPV vaccines haven't posted the sort of big growth either drugmaker has been looking for.

Merck has aimed to broaden use of its vaccine to different patient groups. GSK has trumpeted head-to-head research showing Cervarix prompted a sharper immune response than Gardasil did. And it has touted data showing that Cervarix actually protects against five cancer-causing strains of HPV, not just two. But maybe changing the price tag is another potential strategy.

- check out the GSK release
- see the news from Reuters