Make cancer vaccine more affordable, Nobel laureate says

CALCUTTA, India — Cervical cancer vaccines should cost less to be more effective in lowering the death rate caused by the disease a Nobel laureate said, according to a report in The Times of India on Dec. 3.

Because 80 percent of cervical cancer patients were from developing countries like India, affordability of the vaccine would be the key in ensuring the success of the vaccine, said Harald zur Hausen, whose discovery of the human papilloma virus led to the development of the cervical cancer vaccine. He won the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work.

Now in Calcutta to deliver a lecture, Hausen said he thinks more competition among manufacturers should help lower the price of the vaccine.

"We need a cheaper vaccine for India and several other countries. It is cheaper here than in Europe but I appreciate that it is still steep for the majority of patients. If more companies join the fray, the vaccine will cost less in the near future," Hausen said.

Approximately 260,000 die of cervical cancer around the world every year. India gets 125,000 new patients each.

"Traditionally, rural areas have had more cervical patients but it's rising in the cities and Calcutta is among them," said M Siddiqui, chairperson of the Cancer Foundation of India, who addressed a press conference with Hausen on Dec. 2.