HPV :: Merck stops campaign to mandate girls receive HPV vaccine Gardasil

Merck has suspended its campaign to mandate girls receive its human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil in light of opposition from some parents, patient advocacy groups and public health officials.

Merck last year began lobbying state legislatures to pass laws mandating that middle school age girls receive Gardasil. Merck also supports requiring private insurers to cover Gardasil, which costs $360 and is administered in three injections given over six months, as well as funding for programs that help defray vaccine costs for low-income and uninsured children.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Feb. 2 signed an executive order mandating HPV vaccination for girls entering the sixth grade beginning in September 2008, and at least 20 states are considering proposals that would mandate HPV vaccination for young girls.

Some public health experts recently have expressed concern that proponents of HPV vaccination proposals, including Merck, have acted far too fast and are potentially undermining eventual prospects for the broadest possible immunization. Opposition to proposals has grown in recent weeks among parents who are concerned about the mandates and the potential side effects of vaccination.

Merck’s Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline’s HPV vaccine Cervarix in clinical trials have been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases. FDA in July 2006 approved Gardasil for sale and marketing to girls and women ages nine to 26, and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices later that month voted unanimously to recommend that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine.

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