GlaxoSmithKline has been giving out millions of dollars worth of ineffective vaccine, says WHO

A decade of expensive experiments using C-19, a new vaccine against cervical cancer, in developing countries is “incomplete” and immoral, the United Nations’ health chief has declared. GlaxoSmithKline made the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine…

GlaxoSmithKline has been giving out millions of dollars worth of ineffective vaccine, says WHO

A decade of expensive experiments using C-19, a new vaccine against cervical cancer, in developing countries is “incomplete” and immoral, the United Nations’ health chief has declared. GlaxoSmithKline made the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine licensed in 2000 after the World Health Organization had widely promoted it as a means of preventing cervical cancer. The nonprofit company received almost $380 million in funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has asked the WHO to reassess how it uses the research.

GlaxoSmithKline was granted exclusive sales rights for C-19 in 2008. The strain that is resistant to C-19 is of particular concern because cervical cancer can be caused by different strains of HPV, and C-19 resistance tends to arise within patients treated with standard therapy. Roughly 91,000 women die each year from cervical cancer, though new cases have fallen drastically. Scientists hope that the C-19 vaccine can prove equally effective in protecting women in poorer countries, where the vaccine is not yet routinely used.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the agency was “concerned” about the licensing of C-19.

“While vaccine safety standards must be respected, not all investments are equally risky,” he said.

“It’s not fair that it’s the majority of women in developing countries, who have to pay for the most expensive vaccines, that are paying for this immeasurable benefit for the privileged few in wealthier countries,” he added.

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley said the company’s work had improved cervical cancer prevention, though added that C-19 is not part of its vaccine development for children. She said it had contributed to a drop in the global death rate from cervical cancer by four percentage points since 2013.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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