Affordable HPV vaccine will be made available to developing countries

Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine, Gardasil, will be made available to developing countries through a UNICEF initiative to bring the vaccine to 28 marginalized countries by 2017.

UNICEF partner the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations is a non-profit group that is leading the public tender. Vaccines can cost up to $100 in developing nations; this initiative, however, lowers the price for the HPV vaccine to $4.50 per dose from Merck and $4.60 per dose from GlaxoSmithKline between 2013 and 2017, iStockAnalyst reports.

Merck expects to distribute 2.4 million doses of Gardasil to the 28 countries over the next four years and has agreed to lower the price of the vaccine further if more doses are needed to meet a rising demand. Gardasil is already available in over 125 countries with over 111 million doses distributed worldwide.

"A vast gap currently exists between girls in rich and poor countries," GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley said. "With today's announcement of GAVI's programmes we can begin to bridge that gap to help protect girls against cervical cancer no matter where they are born. By 2020 we hope to reach more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries."