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Policy & Politics

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Nearing OK

May 17, 2006

On Thursday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is set to consider Merck & Co.'s application for approval to market Gardasil, its new vaccine that protects against four strains of the STD human papillomavirus. Gardasil targets two types of HPV that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and the two responsible for about 90 percent of genital warts.

Initially, conservative Christian groups expressed concern that the vaccine might encourage promiscuity. But meetings with some groups helped mollify those concerns, said Merck spokesperson Kelly Dougherty. "There seems to be a universal level of acceptance at this point," she said.

Focus on the Family supports Gardasil but does not want vaccination to be mandatory, said Linda Klepacki, a sexual health analyst with the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based organization. "Our overall statement is that we're very pleased with the vaccine," she said.

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Washington-based Family Research Council, expressed a similar view. "We think [Gardasil] holds the potential for improving the health and preserving the lives of thousands of women," he said. The group has met with both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, whose HPV vaccine Cervarix is expected to be submitted to FDA by year's end.

But Sprigg said the choice of whether individual girls are vaccinated for HPV should rest with their parents, not the government. "The parents' right to transmit their values to their children is very important," he said.

A CDC advisory committee recommends which vaccines should be used, but individual states decide which ones to require.

Worldwide, cervical cancer causes about 273,500 deaths each year.

Back to other news for May 17, 2006

Adapted from:
Newsday (New York)
05.17.06; Kathleen Kerr

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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