Cervical Cancer in the Canberra Times

On Saturday, The Canberra Times picked by on my blog post on the affordability of vaccinations for cervical cancer:

University of Melbourne economist Professor Joshua Gans estimated it would cost each taxpayer about $1.73 a year to immunise 12-year- old girls annually.”Half a cup of coffee given up per year to pay for this vaccine, which seems incredibly cheap,” he said.

But the article also is optimistic with the Prime Minister hoping to see the vaccine come to the PBS in a year or so.

Prime Minister John Howard has urged his Health Minister to bring forward the roll-out of free cervical cancer vaccinations to mid-2007. But Health Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out starting the immunisation program before 2008. There has been widespread criticism of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s decision to knock back an application to put Gardasil on the national immunisation program.

Women are left to pay about $460 for the recommended three doses of the product, which was developed by Australian of the Year Ian Frazer and is the world’s first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The vaccine will be free for women aged 12 to 26 if Gardasil is put on the national program. Mr Howard said yesterday that the Government was keen to ensure this vaccine was available and the mass immunisation program started as soon as possible.

”From a practical point of view, it’s hard to do that from the beginning of the school year next year, we have got to do it through the states,” Mr Howard said. ”I am going to talk again to Mr Abbott to see if there is any way that it might be started, say, halfway through next year.” But Mr Abbott had already ruled out starting the immunisation program before 2008.

I hope this is all some bargaining tactic. Although, there is a part of me that fells it is a shame to use negotiating tactics (such as “I for one am willing to put my daughters at risk”) for an innovation that is Australian-made.

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