EU should make cervical cancer vaccine mandatory for young girls

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LONDON (AFX) - Well-respected medical journal The Lancet has called on the European Union to implement mandatory vaccination of young girls with a new jab that can protect against cervical cancer.

Gardasil, a vaccine developed by Merck & Co and Sanofi Pasteur MSD, was granted marketing approval by European medicine regulators last week.

Most cervical cancers are caused by a virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is wide spread throughout the population and transmitted sexually.
Gardasil has been proven to provide protection against two types of the virus which cause 70 pct of all cervical cancers, and two types which cause 90 pct of cases of genital warts.

A rival vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline PLC is waiting for regulatory approval.

In the US, the State of Michigan last month passed a bill ruling that all girls entering the sixth grade of school (at 11-12 years old) should be immunised.

EU member states should take heed of that move, The Lancet said in an editorial.

Gardasil is currently approved for use in children ages 9-15 years and women ages 16-26 years. Data from trials in boys is still pending.

The Lancet said there is growing support for the vaccination of both sexes. Modelling studies have shown that a female-specific approach would be only 60-75 pct effective at reducing HPV prevalence in women as strategies that target both sexes.

'For effective and long-term eradication of HPV, all adolescents must be immunised. Data from the vaccine trials in boys are urgently needed; in the mean time, EU member states should lead by making the vaccinations mandatory for all girls aged 11-12 years,' the journal concluded.

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