Gardasil wins an HPV cost-effectiveness match-up

The U.K.'s penchant for cost-effectiveness study has lit upon human papillomavirus vaccines. Health Protection Agency researchers compared GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix shot with Merck and Sanofi's Gardasil, using a mathematical model and the latest-available data, Bloomberg reports. The winner? Gardasil, by at least a £19 ($29.70) per dose margin.

Published on the British Medical Journal website, their study's model added value for Gardasil's ability to stave off anal cancer and genital warts, rather than focusing on cervical cancer, which is Cervarix's emphasis. But though Gardasil is comparatively cheaper, Cervarix may do a better job of preventing cancer deaths, the researchers said (as quoted by Bloomberg). "Clinical and public health decisions about choice of HPV vaccine need to take into account the whole spectrum of differences between vaccines and the uncertainty around them," they wrote.

Right now, Cervarix is the only HPV shot funded by the NHS. But the contract is due to expire, and Sanofi Pasteur is participating in the tender process. The company said it has "offered a price that is cost effective and excellent value for the NHS," InPharm reports. When the previous contract was bid in 2008, a discount from Glaxo edged out Sanofi's offer.

GSK wouldn't comment on the NHS contract. But the company pointed out that HPA's report "acknowledges that Cervarix is likely to prevent more cancer and cancer deaths than Gardasil," adding that it felt cervical cancer should be NHS' focus as well.

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