The Health Minister and the Prime Minister appear to be at odds over the time frame for the introduction of a cervical cancer vaccine program.
Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday the drug would be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), despite the relevant committee recommending refusal for federal government funding.
Mr Howard said he wanted the immunisation program available as soon as possible in the new year.
"There's no lack of desire to get this wonderful drug available and the mass immunisation campaign to start as soon as possible," said Mr Howard.
Health Minister Tony Abbott says everyone would like to see it happen quickly, but it probably will not get under way until 2008.
"The advice that I've got is to be effective this vaccine requires three shots over ... seven months and it looks to me that would require a full school year to manage," he said.
I would love to be a fly on the wall in the PBS - I think there are several levels of politicing happening here. The only real reason that I can think of for the PBS to refuse to list the vaccine is that the drug company's price is too high - refusing to list it makes the company come back with a lower price. Of course the rest is the federal pollies trying to look good.
Nov 12, '06
We were talking about this at work the other day, and someone said that the cost of the vaccination would be offset by the reduction in screening programs.
however, my understanding is that it prevents HPV, which causes (is this right?) around 90% of cervical cancer. So women will still need Pap smears, making the financial picture a little more complicated than my colleague thought.
Obviously, though, the vaccination will result in a vast decrease in deaths, disability, infertility, health care consumption... so yay!
Last edit by talaxandra on Nov 12, '06