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WHO Approves Second HPV Vaccine

The WHO announced Thursday it had approved a second cervical cancer vaccine, opening “U.N. agencies and partners [to] now officially buy millions of doses of the vaccine for poor countries worldwide,” where an estimated 80 percent of the 280,000 annual deaths from cervical cancer occur each year, the AP/ reports (7/9).

Cervarix, produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), prevents HPV infection, which can cause cervical cancer. Cervarix, joins Merck’s Gardasil, in receiving the “green light” from the WHO, Reuters reports. “WHO ‘prequalification’ is necessary for U.N. agencies and the non-profit GAVI Alliance to purchase the vaccine, and Glaxo said on Thursday it hoped the move would help speed access to Cervarix globally,” Reuters writes (Hirschler, 7/9) – which officials say will save “tens of thousands of lives,” according to AP/ (7/9).

“We’re very eager to offer women in developing countries these vaccines because without early screening, they are arguably more vulnerable to cervical cancer,” Dan Thomas, a spokesman for GAVI, said, according to Reuters (7/9). However, cost arrangements have yet to be settled, Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal reports (Stovall, 7/9).

Reuters reports that GAVI is in talks with GSK and Merck in hopes of bringing the cost of the vaccine down for developing countries (7/9). AP/ writes: “In the West, the vaccines typically cost about $360 for a three-shot dose — which is far too expensive for poor countries, Thomas said” (7/9).