[Ip-health] New study finds HPV vaccine could be affordable to millions of girls

Donald W. Light Jr. dlight at princeton.edu
Sat Nov 5 13:42:15 PDT 2016

Dear Ip-health,  Jamie Love told me to send this announcement to you.
Thanks, Don Light

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of hospitalizations and death for women. Approximately 85% of the 500,000 new cases per year worldwide and 90% of 270,000 deaths occur in developing countries during women’s most productive years. The two most prevalent vaccines that prevent about 70% of cases are priced much higher than those countries and patients can afford. But a new study from a team led by Professor Donald Light and published online in Vaccine<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X16308568> finds that manufacturing costs for Gardasil to affluent nations average only $2.05-$3.07 a dose, and costs for developing countries average $0.48-$0.59 a dose. Revenues in affluent markets average $81.00 a dose, and the lowest known price in developing countries outside Gavi is about $13.00. Thus prices with profits could be much lower and reduce global morbidity and mortality for cervical cancer.   (For details, see appendices)

“After manufacturing a first set of 15.4 million doses of Gardasil-4 for affluent markets each year, the second set for developing countries costs much less than Merck’s stated cost of $4.50 per dose,” said Light, a professor of comparative health policy at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and the study’s corresponding author. “The sales volume of Cervavix is much lower, so costs per dose are much higher.“

Both Merck and Glaxosmithkline (GSK) currently rank high in the global Access to Medicines Index and provide discount and charitable programs that increase access to HPV vaccines for some countries. Since all research costs have been recovered, however, the authors wrote that both companies could offer much lower prices as a moral commitment “to reduce global health inequities by preventing cancer and deaths in lower income countries.”

The study is based on a detailed analysis of the capital, equipment, materials, quality controls, labor, and administrative costs per batch produced. Few studies of the closely held costs of manufacturing have been done, and this is the first for the complex new generation of conjugate vaccines. Costs of other newer vaccines like Gardasil-9 or the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar 13) may be somewhat higher.

The research was initiated and partly funded by Doctors Without Borders, with the School of Osteopathic Medicine making a substantial contribution. Professor Light recruited the lead and second authors, Chaevia Clendinen and Yapei Zhang, as student volunteers from the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Clendinen has now received her Ph.D., and Zhang is a student at Yale Medical School. Professor Rebecca Warburton volunteered as a health economist from the University of Victoria in Canada.

Donald W. Light

Professor, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

Distinguished career award 2013 American Sociological Association
Edmund Pellegrino medal in bioethics, 2016
Google citation h-index: top 5%
Guest researcher, Princeton & NYU

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