Bill Gates puts his money where his mouth is again

Once again Microsoft founder Bill Gates is putting his money where his mouth is and the world's poorest women will benefit.

This time with the help of a $27.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the international non-profit health group PATH is planning a program of research in India, Peru, Uganda and Vietnam as part of a five-year initiative to get new cervical cancer vaccines to women in poor countries.

PATH says there is an acute need for the vaccines in the developing world, where local health systems do not support routine Pap smears and it plans to run pilot schemes in four countries.

A quarter of a million women die of cervical cancer each year, most of them in the world's poorest countries.

Within the next couple of months two rival vaccines targeting the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes the disease, are expected to be launched by drug companies Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.

Both drugmakers have agreed to provide their vaccines to trial projects.

Merck's product Gardasil is expected to be first on the market closely followed by Glaxo's Cervarix.

Both vaccines target HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, but they vary in the number of strains they attack and the way they are manufactured.

It is expected that both vaccines will become multibillion-dollar sellers on the back of sales in rich countries and developing countries are also a potentially important market for the manufacturers.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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