GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals

GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK) will launch its much-awaited vaccine 'Cevarix' for protection against cervical cancer in a month's time.

In a bid to promote the vaccine as part of the Indian immunization programme, GSK has teamed up with the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), a US-based non-profit organization which focuses on improvement of women and child health for a demonstration project. Under the demonstration project which is expected to take-off in Gujarat in June this year, GSK, the vaccine major will supply 60,000 doses.

According to Path, with a $27.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH will help to conduct programme in India, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam to gather the evidence countries need to make informed decisions about how to introduce the vaccine. PATH will help plan for and pilot introduction in the four countries on the regional and global vaccine introduction efforts and international financing plans.

Cevarix has already been submitted to World Health Organization for the pre-qualification. The Indian Association of Paediatrics Immunization Committee has also recommended to the government of India to include Cevarix under the Universal Immunization Programme, which is awaiting clearance.

The key objective to include Cevarix under the national paediatric vaccination drive is because it is prescribed for women between 10 and 45 years. At the age of 10 the girl child is brought in for her final round of inoculations to the primary health centres. This is where the paediatricians intend to make its efforts to educate and create awareness about the need for this vaccine. Three doses of Cevarix is recommended within six months because the vaccine has shown excellent immune response in women aged between 10 and 55 years, stated Dr A J Chitkara, member IAP and consultant Max Hospital, Pithampura.

According to Prof Tino Schwarz, Stiftung Juliusspital, Academic Teaching Hospital, University of Wurburg, Germany, worldwide, virus types of human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16, 18, 45 and 31 are responsible for 80 percent of cervical cancer. Virus types 45 and 31 are the third and fourth most prevalent cancer causing virus.

In India, types 16, 18 and 45 are responsible for 81 per cent of cervical cancer. Vaccination could protect up to 70 per cent of the cases for optimal prevention along with regular screening. The progression of cervical cancer is largely asymptomatic and takes place over a long period of time in most women, said Dr Gayathri Kamat, consultant Obst & G Wockhardt Hospitals Bangalore.

Currently 1.4 million cases are diagnosed with cervical cancer globally and 5 lakh new cases are reported each year. Annually 270,000 women die of cervical cancer.

In India, cervical cancer ranks the leading cause of the dreadful disease among between 15 and 44 years. Every year, 1, 32,000 women here are diagnosed and succumb to the disease. The country contributes to 26.2 percent of the global cases.