Women's Health

05.10.1312:38 PM ET

Cutting HPV Vaccine Prices For The World's Poor

Companies that make the cervical cancer vaccine are pushing to immunizie 30 million girls in developing countries.

The companies that make cervical cancer vaccines, which cost about $130 a dose in the United States, are cutting prices to less than $5 in the world’s poorest countries in order to make it possible to immunize millions of vulnerable girls. As The New York Times reports, thanks to Pap tests, cervical cancer is rarely fatal in rich countries, but it kills around 275,000 women a year in the developing world. Dr. Seth Berkley, the chief executive of the GAVI Alliance, which negotiated the lower prices, says he hopes that by 2020, 30 million girls in 40 poor countries will get the vaccine. Doctors Without Borders, however, argues that the prices are still too high. HPV vaccines were developed with taxpayer money, and the pharmaceutical companies have already made billions from them. The Times quoted one specialist from the organization asking, “Why are the pharmaceutical companies still making profits off the backs of the poorest countries?”