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Merck, Sanofi’s Cancer Vaccine Beats Glaxo’s Rival on Cost

Merck & Co. and Sanofi’s cervical-cancer vaccine is more cost-effective than a rival product made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, researchers from the U.K.’s Health Protection Agency found.

A dose of London-based Glaxo’s Cervarix would have to be 19 pounds ($29.70) to 35 pounds cheaper than Merck and Sanofi’s Gardasil to be as cost-effective, according to researchers led by Mark Jit of the HPA. The study’s results were published today on the website of the British Medical Journal.

Jit and colleagues, whose comparative report in 2008 led the U.K. government to buy Cervarix, according to the journal, decided to compare the two products again using a mathematical model in which they plugged in the latest data available, including evidence that Gardasil can ward off anal cancer and genital warts. They cautioned against judging the vaccines, which help protect against different strains of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, solely on price.

“Clinical and public health decisions about choice of HPV vaccine need to take into account the whole spectrum of differences between vaccines and the uncertainty around them,” they wrote. Though Gardasil is comparatively cheaper, Cervarix may better prevent deaths due to cancer, the authors said.

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