GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix is losing to Merck’s Gardasil in the U.S. and Europe, but it hopes to win some scores from China. To do that, it has formed an alliance with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The project, built on Alibaba’s Ali Health platform available on the Taobao mobile app, enables users to access online HPV and cervical cancer education information or consultation services from either professional healthcare providers or smart bots.
It also allows users to make Cervarix vaccination appointment at community healthcare centers. The platform is expected to cover 1,500 such centers in more than 100 largely populated cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by year-end, GSK said in a release.
For the British pharmaceutical company, there is some growth potential here. Cervarix costs 580 yuan for each injection, which means a procedure of 3 injections will cost 1740 yuan (260 US dollars). Gardasil has not yet been launched in the country, but has already reached the price of 798 Chinese yuan for a shot in some administrative districts or about 38% higher than the price of Cervarix.
In China, Cervarix is currently approved for vaccination in a younger population—women ages 9 to 25—while Gardasil is for women 20 to 45. Most health authorities, including the CDC and the World Health Organization, recommend early HPV immunization for adolescents and young adults.
Now, supported by Alibaba, a company with a huge presence in China, GSK hopes to win big. Cervical cancer prevention and vaccination is only the first step of a partnership between the two companies. The Chinese representative office of the British company said that they will continue to cooperate with pediatrics and expand adult vaccination services soon.