Indigenous cervical cancer vaccine to cost between 200- 400: Adar Poonawalla

Updated on Sep 02, 2022 04:24 AM IST

Currently, two HPV vaccines by foreign manufacturers are available in India: the quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil Merck), priced at ₹2,800 per dose; and a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline), priced at ₹3,299 per dose.

In July this year, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted market authorisation to the SII to manufacture the indigenous HPV vaccine.
In July this year, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted market authorisation to the SII to manufacture the indigenous HPV vaccine.

New Delhi: The first indigenously developed quadrivalent Human Papilloma Virus (qHPV) vaccine for prevention of cervical cancer, which is expected to hit the shelves over the next few months, is likely to be priced between 200 and 400, Serum Institute of India’s (SII) chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla said on Thursday.

“It is likely to be priced in the 200-400 range. But we will finalise it after discussing it with the government of India. Once our manufacturing starts, we will be able to talk more about it... I can assure everyone that it is going to be very affordable. It is going to be substantially lower than what is available today from manufacturers across the globe,” Poonawalla said, addressing an event held to announce the development of the vaccine.

Currently, two HPV vaccines by foreign manufacturers are available in India: the quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil Merck), priced at 2,800 per dose; and a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline), priced at 3,299 per dose.

Also read: US approves updated Covid booster vaccine targeting newest omicron variants

In July this year, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted market authorisation to the SII to manufacture the indigenous HPV vaccine.

Speaking at the event, Union minister of state (independent charge) science and technology, Dr Jitendra Singh, said the government will ensure the vaccine is easily available to citizens.

“Covid-19 has awakened us to preventive health care. Before this, in India, no one was talking about preventive health care. I am proud to announce the development of the first indigenously developed vaccine against cervical cancer. It is quite prevalent among women, especially in the younger age group. Coming out with this vaccine is a giant step in the direction of preventive care. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, many such initiatives are being taken up,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden for cervical cancer, witnessing about 123,000 cases and around 67,000 deathsevery year. The new vaccine provides prevention against 6, 11, 16 and 18 strains by generating antibodies against HPV. The indigenous vaccine will prove to be a low-cost, affordable vaccine and will be available in the markets in a few months.

Officials from the DBT explained that the new vaccine is based on VLP (virus-like particles)—like the hepatitis B vaccine—and is made to provide protection by generating antibodies against the HPV virus’s L1 protein.

Also read: Vaccination of cattle against lumpy skin disease begins in Haryana

This will especially be useful for nearly 50 million girls aged 9–14 years in India.

Dr Neerja Bhatla, professor (gynaecology and obstetrics), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said that while the focus of this vaccine will currently be on women, especially young girls, eventually it can also be administered to boys to prevent a host of other cancers.

“Considering that women are the most at-risk category, priority will be given to them. However, once that population is covered, the vaccine coverage can also be extended to young boys to prevent a host of cancers including anal and penile cancers. Once even 70% of women’s population is covered, there will be herd immunity and diseases can be controlled to a great extent,” said Bhatla.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Soumya Pillai covers environment and traffic in Delhi. A journalist for three years, she has grown up in and with Delhi, which is often reflected in the stories she does about life in the city. She also enjoys writing on social innovations.

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