Drugmakers, health groups bring poor girls vaccine

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — 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.

Drugmakers Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC initially will provide 2.4 million doses of their vaccines against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus, at a fraction of the cost typically commanded in Western countries.

More than 90 percent of the shots initially will be provided by Merck. The Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based company also has agreed to provide more shots at even lower prices in the future if higher volumes of vaccines are ordered.

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