With the approval of Gardasil, and the pending approval of Cervarix, major progress can be made against cervical cancer, especially in the third world. Enter the Gates Foundation — one of my favorite charities.
As a first step, PATH plans a program of research in India, Peru, Uganda and Vietnam, with a $27.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, studying the best way to use the vaccines.
PATH will help pilot introduction in the four countries, and both drugmakers have agreed to provide their vaccines to demonstration projects.
This is excellent news, and it’s the right way to go about promoting the vaccine. Best practices for dispensing and usage will lead to greater efficacy and more lives saved in the long term. (After all, a major component of a positive therapeutic outcome is patient compliance — that is, consistent usage in the most effective manner possible in given environmental conditions.) Even better is that it looks like the drug companies will be supplying the PATH project for free during preliminary fact-finding. With the Gates-Big Pharma collaboration, it looks like we can start making inroads against the 200,000 yearly deaths that occur as a result of HPV-mediated cervical cancer.
The first world will largely subsidize the third for the time being, but large orders of the drug could turn a profit for GSK and Merck in the long run, which is why it is in their best interest to provide the drug free of charge for programs like PATH in the beginning. And lest the liberals complain about profiteering off the backs of the poor, consider that the third world is one of medicine’s final frontiers: if companies can profit while helping those unable to help themselves — via charitable and governmental financial proxies — then everyone wins. Especially the poor.
[tags]Medicine, pharmacy, HPV, gardasil, cervarix, gates foundation, bill gates, GSK, Merck, cancer, oncology, cancer vaccine[/tags]