CDC To Add Gardasil to Subsidized Vaccine Program for Children
Merck on Wednesday announced that CDC plans to add the company's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil to its Vaccines for Children Program, which provides no-cost immunizations to children ages nine to 18 covered by Medicaid, Alaska Native and American Indian children, and some uninsured and underinsured children, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 11/1).
FDA in July 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 all girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine. ACIP also recommended that Gardasil be covered by the Vaccines for Children Program.
According to Merck, the vaccine -- which is given in three injections over six months and costs $360 -- 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 it is 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 (California Healthline, 6/30).
"The addition of Gardasil to the VFC program is a very positive step towards protecting the future health of girls and young women in this country against cervical cancer," Mark Feinberg -- Merck's vice president of policy, public health and medical affairs in the vaccine division -- said (United Press International, 11/1).