Two of the world's biggest drug companies have agreed to slash the price of their HPV vaccines—which currently cost around $130 a dose in the US—down to less than $5 in some developing nations, the companies announced today. Thanks to a deal negotiated by the nonprofit GAVI Alliance, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed to provide a few million cheap doses of their respective cervical cancer-fighting products for demo programs in countries including Kenya, Ghana, Laos, and Madagascar, the New York Times reports.
GAVI, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, is hoping to have the lower prices ($4.50 for Merck's drug and $4.60 for Glaxo's) in place in 40 countries, giving some 30 million girls access to the vaccine. But the deal won't include poor countries in Latin America, because they have wealthier neighbors, and Doctors Without Borders says it's "disappointing" that prices aren't even lower. "Why are the pharmaceutical companies still making profits off the backs of the poorest countries?" a specialist for the group asked.