Merck, Glaxo health groups bringing cervical cancer vaccines to girls in poorest countries

GENEVA – Two multinational drugmakers are teaming up with global health groups in an attempt to protect millions of girls in the world’s poorest countries from deadly cervical cancer.

Starting with pilot programs in eight Asian and African nations, the ambitious project aims to inoculate more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries by 2020.

The endeavour was announced Thursday by the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership that’s worked with drugmakers to deliver vaccines to treat fatal childhood illnesses in the world’s most impoverished regions.

Drugmakers Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC initially will provide 2.4 million doses of their vaccines against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus.

The vaccines will be delivered at a fraction of the cost typically commanded in Western countries.