Central Govt Negotiating to Reduce Price of Cervical Cancer Vaccine
With growing cases of cervical cancer in India, the Central government is negotiating with manufacturers of HPV vaccines, used for treating cervical cancer, to bring down the price of each dose from $130 to $4.50 in India, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) director Ch Mohan Rao has said.
Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, along with Nobel laureate Harald Zur Hausen, who identified the two most frequent HPV types in cervical cancer tumours, Mohan Rao said: “Negotiation is underway with the manufacturer of HPV vaccines to bring down the prices of vaccines so that it is easily accessible to the common man.”
Two vaccines licensed globally are available in India; a quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil and a bivalent vaccine Cervarix.
With the high cost of the present vaccines, affordability and accessibility of them is a major concern for a mass vaccination programme in developing countries like India, Mohan Rao said.
However, the two HPV vaccines available in India for treating cervical cancer don’t protect against all types of cancer-causing HPV. These vaccines protect against four types of HPV: HPV 6, HPV 11, HPV 16, and HPV 18, he said.
HPV serotypes 16 and 18 account for nearly 70 per cent of cervical cancer in India, he pointed out.
Although results in the development of vaccines against HPV are promising, it will be a decade or more before they become available worldwide and are cost-effective, said Hausen.
“A cost-effective second-generation HPV vaccine is needed for developing countries to address various issues specific to the region,” he observed.
Sexually transmitted HPV infection is the most important risk factor for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and invasive cervical cancer, he said. Unlike many other cancers, cervical cancer occurs early and strikes at the productive period of a woman’s life. The incidence rises in 30-34 years of age and peaks at 55-65 years, he pointed out.
“HPV transmission is influenced by sexual activity and age. Almost 75 per cent of all sexually active adults are likely to be infected with at least one HPV type,” he remarked.
He said that the currently available vaccines are safe and efficacious. “Follow-up studies over 5 years in a subset of participants showed persistent protection and good response to booster immunisation,” he said.
He said that there was a need to develop a global programme to eradicate cervical virus from the world.