Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cervical Cancer vaccine available at MPH - for a price

Today's Muscat Daily has an advertorial on the front page for Muscat Private Hospital's offering of a cervical cancer vaccine. This is now available from MPH, even though the Ministry of Health is still studying the 'feasibility and efficacy". That's good, right?

The good Dr. Saxton is quoted comparing the vaccine to Penicillin, which is total nonsense (penicillin being a powerful antibiotic drug that kills bacteria, while the vaccine enables the body to recognise and defend against 4 types of cancer causing Human Papiloma Virus, HPV). The article claims the vaccine offers "effective protection against the killer disease", which it doesn't. It only protects against those 4 types of virus, albeit the most common types.

To get some more accurate information is fortunately easy via the internet. Here is a comprehensive report by the US National Cancer Institute. Quote:
Neither of these HPV vaccines has been proven to provide complete protection against persistent infection with other HPV types, although some initial results suggest that both vaccines might provide partial protection against a few additional HPV types that can cause cervical cancer. Overall, therefore, about 30 percent of cervical cancers will not be prevented by these vaccines. Also, in the case of Gardasil, 10 percent of genital warts will not be prevented by the vaccine. Neither vaccine prevents other sexually transmitted diseases, and they do not treat HPV infection or cervical cancer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting the vaccine is a bad thing. Far from it. By I'd hardly call a 30% remaining risk "effective protection". Women must also continue to get PAP screening. The article also fails to mention that it is only licenced in the US for women between 9 and 26 years of age.

Anyhow, the price quoted today? 340RO. US$884. The exact same vaccine is available in the US at a retail price of $360 (3 x $120 per dose).

That's a HUGE 250% mark-up for the accountants at Muscat Private Hospital. And they only have enough doses for 30 women so far.

Gee, thanks MPH. You really care.

And Anita Joseph, ace reporter for Muscat Daily - how about next time taking 5 fuckin' minutes to do some basic background on google before slapping such PR copy straight on the front page beneath your by-line?

Just a suggestion.


  1. Yes, its amazing when you turn over a rock and see what all comes crawling out. A misleading newspaper front page advertorial misrepresenting claims, a good Doctor mis-stating the facts on a product, and a private hospital charging exorbitant prices. But this type of camel sh*t is not exclusive to Oman, and remember the universal rule- 'let the buyer beware.' In this day of the internet and google, it is so easy to check facts, but then so few Omanis have access to the internet.

  2. Fair point about the reporting - it's about time the newspapers did a little more critical appraisal of the stuff they are given for publishing - or even the stuff they take off the wires - sometimes it's either inappropriate, irrelevant or could be improved by just one or two lines of local copy (ok so I'm straying into the realms of fantasy here).

    But I think that anyone who is even thinking about paying that sort of money to have something injected into themselves might be expected to do a bit of research? One of the many dangers facing Oman's long term development is the lack of personal responsibility demonstrated by an increasing number of its citizens. What happened to "buyer beware"? MPH is a business and it's not like the vaccination is snake oil.

  3. Hmm, that is true, which is why I didn't take it in the US. It didn't seem like it was worth it!
    Also, it was available for $90 per dose for college females!

  4. I agree with both Abdullah and Jimsarno. But, just one point.

    Newspapers anywhere in the world are a valid source. Any Citizen has right to good health.

    So, if trusted newspapers write stories like the one mentioned. A person who has fair income but no internet connection what is he supposed to do??? She will believe the article given in newspaper. And may feel that even if it is expensive she should go for it, because it protects you from so many diseases.
    So, please newspapers, don't say that we don't have any responsibility, it's always personal responsibility.

    Or you mean to say that people should not trust newspaper. They should consider the news as "may be true" then check and then believe...


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