DoH criticised over HPV jab choice

The DoH could save almost £20 million a year by deciding to use the HPV vaccine Cervarix over its more expensive rival Gardasil, UK research suggests.

Last month, sexual health charities criticised the DoH for not choosing the quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil which, unlike the bivalent vaccine Cervarix, offers protection against genital warts as well as cervical cancer.

This latest study, conducted by researchers from the Heath Protection Agency, used a mathematical model to predict the cost-effectiveness and long-term outcomes of a vaccination programme in the UK using either of the two HPV vaccines.

They found that overall a HPV vaccination programme is likely to be cost-effective provided that the protection lasts for more than 10 years.

They say that using a bivalent vaccine priced at £13-21 less per dose than a quadrivalent vaccine translates to financial savings of between £11.5 – £18.6 million from the vaccine price alone in the first year of the programme.

However, this saving is only provided if 80 per cent of 12-year olds in the UK receive the full three-dose vaccine series.

Lisa Power, corporate head of policy, Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘The government has made a decision which appears to be cost effective but not health effective. What it is basically saying is it thinks it’s cheaper to let people get genital warts and treat them than to prevent them. The cost of human misery has not been considered.’

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

BMJ

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