A recent agreement between several pharmaceutical companies and a global vaccine alliance has lowered the cost of preventing cervical cancer globally, and has given Fred Hutch a reason to celebrate. The agreement, signed in May, means that both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed to retail their HPV vaccines in developing countries for less than $5 a dose, which will put the vaccine within reach of vastly more of the world’s population. Currently, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in the world, killing 275,000 people per year, and thelink between HPV and cervical cancer is very clear, particularly at Fred Hutch.
The vaccines were made possible in part by major contributions from Dr. Denise Galloway and her colleagues at Fred Hutch. The work they did showed that HPV is associated with almost all of the genital-tract cancers, and with many of the head and neck cancers, and also went on to identify how HPV causes cancer. In developing nations, where over 85 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur yearly, the need for the vaccine is strong; thanks to this agreement, it’s going to be available.