Sanofi Pasteur, a joint company of Merck and Sanofi-Aventis, recently began selling Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil in Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Reuters reports (Reuters, 10/17).
The European Commission late last month approved Gardasil for sale and marketing in the European Union.
According to Merck, the vaccine in clinical trials has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing HPV infection with strains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases, in women who do not already have the virus, and about 99% effective in preventing HPV strains 6 and 11, which together with strains 16 and 18 cause about 90% of genital wart cases.
Gardasil also protects against vaginal and vulvar cancers, two other gynecological cancers that are linked to HPV, according to a study presented in June at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta.
In the U.K., the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an independent advisory committee for the U.K. Department of Health, will decide if the vaccine will be covered by the National Health System (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/25).
Sanofi Pasteur plans to launch sales of the vaccine in most E.U. countries by the end of 2006, but the vaccine will not be available in Italy, Greece or Spain until 2007.
According to Reuters, Gardasil in the E.U. will cost between $565 and $753 depending on the country (Reuters, 10/17).
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.