GAVI to bring HPV vaccines to poor countries

The GAVI Alliance has started a new program to get cervical cancer vaccines to girls in poor countries. The alliance is in talks with Merck ($MRK) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), which make the HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix respectively, to "secure a sustainable price from manufacturers," according to a release. The alliance says that up to 2 million women and girls in nine countries could be protected from cervical cancer by 2015 if a deal with drugmakers can be reached.

“The HPV vaccine is critical to women and girls in poorer countries because they usually do not have access to screening to prevent cervical cancer and treatment taken for granted in richer nations. Today, we have taken deliberate first steps to correct this inequity,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI. The group hopes to get the program up and running by 2013; Rwanda and Vietnam will probably be among the first countries to get the discounted vaccine.

About 295,000 women die each year of cervical cancer, but 90% of those deaths are in developing nations where cancer screenings and prophylactic shots aren't available.

- here's the GAVI release
- check out the Reuters article

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