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Price of Cervical Cancer Vaccine To Be Cut Down Drastically In Lebanon

Thursday – The Hypatia Network, a collection of cancer charities and pharmaceutical companies,20-6-2010-2 announced that the price of life-saving cervical cancer vaccines are to be cut drastically by over 40 % in an attempt to increase the number of Lebanese women who have taken the precaution. This attempt is due to a worldwide study which unveiled the low level of vaccination and Pap screen checks coincided with an increasing rate of infection of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus HPV.

A survey of 1,000 Lebanese women aged 18 to 55; only five % of women in Lebanon have had the vaccine – compared to almost 25% of Americans. And only 64 percent go for regular smear tests, with many others opting out altogether, the survey found. Vaccination rates are thought to be incredibly low due to the vaccines cost which previously fetched between $135 and $200 a dose. “Numbers [of cervical cancer] in Lebanon are expected to rise in the coming years as cultural habits continue changing,” said Dr Khaled Habib, president of the Lebanese Society of Pathology. “This will lead to more viral infections today, most of which will only be noticeable cancers in the future.”

Glaxo Smith Kline, one of the two main vaccine manufacturers and producers of the Cervarix vaccine, have slashed global prices to better correspond with local real wages. Now in Lebanon, the Cervarix vaccine will be $76 a dose, although the true price of immunization is set to be closer to $228, this reduction is due to the pressure from medical institutions and charities.

Cervical cancer is known to be the second most deadly female cancer, but, unlike other cancers, it mainly affects those aged 18 to 45, killing upwards of 270,000 women annually worldwide. The survey found that 72 % of Lebanese women thought they were likely to develop the disease and that 55 percent of them were worried about it. However, only 43% understood that smear tests detected cancer with 16 percent choosing to eat healthily and exercise as a means of guarding against the disease. “The vaccine is most effective when administered in girls who have not yet gone through puberty,” Habib explained. “Some people say that the age limit is 26 but that is only a cost consideration because the vaccine is part of the free government health service in some countries,” added. “In fact, the vaccine can be administered to women up to the age of 55 and we encourage all who can to have the vaccine,” adding “Screening and vaccination together is the best strategy to help prevent cervical cancer,” said Habib. “This disease is neither genetic nor hereditary, so it is preventable and we have the tools to fight against it.”

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