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Cancer vaccine contract announced

20 June, 2008  

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has landed the UK government’s contract for a vaccine aimed at preventing cervical cancer.

Cervarix will be given to girls aged 12 and 13 from this September in a bid to cut the number contracting human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine guards against two strains of the HPV virus, which causes 70% of cases of cervical cancer.

From September next year, the Department of Health is running a catch-up campaign for girls up to 18 as part of a two-year programme. It will not be compulsory but will be offered to all girls.

The Department of Health is providing funds of £8.9m to primary care trusts (PCTs) – just over £55,000 for an average-sized PCT – to support the implementation of the programme.

Smear testing will continue even after the vaccine is introduced due to the gap between the age of vaccination and age of first screening, and because the jab does not protect against all HPV types that may cause the cancer. Since the news, GSK’s share price have risen 2%.

Eddie Gray, president of pharmaceuticals Europe for GSK, said: “This is great news for girls and women across the UK and reflects the growing confidence in Cervarix, which provides cervical cancer protection with a strong and sustained immune response.”

The decision to opted for Cervarix rather than Gardasil has drawn criticism from the Terrence Higgins Trust because Cervarix protects against fewer strains of the HPV virus.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The contract has been awarded for the vaccine that scored best overall against a number of pre-agreed criteria and offers best overall value to the NHS. The vaccination programme has always been about cervical cancer protection, irrespective of which vaccine was chosen.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008


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“No I don’t agree. Published data shows that Gardasil is greatly superior in terms of the number of HPV strains it protects against. If it were my daughter I would want to reduce the risk as much as possible when it comes to cervical cancer.” – Sejal Doshi, UK

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