Gardasil, a vaccine that protects women from 75% of HPVs (human papilloma viruses) that lead to cervical cancer has been approved by the European Union. It will be launched by the end of October, 2006.

The vaccine was approved on June 8, 2006, by the US FDA. It will be marketed in Europe by Sanofi Pasteur MSD. Gardasil belongs to Merck & Co., Inc. It was approved within nine months of its submission in Europe – much faster than most other medications.

Sanofi Pasteur MSD believe Gardasil will first become available in the UK, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

In the European Union Gardasil has been approved for females aged 9-26. However, individual countries can decide on ages more specifically.

33,500 woman are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 15,000 die of it each year in Europe. If widespread vaccination occurs, it could mean the saving of 11,250 lives each year. About 300,000 women develop cervical cancer worldwide each year. The vaccination course consists of three shots and will cost �300 to �360 euros (US$383 to US$460).

Cervical cancer is the second biggest killer cancer for women globally (breast cancer is the first).

Gardasil protects women from HPV types 16 and 18, it also prevents low-grade and pre-cancerous lesions, as well as genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 19.

Gardasil is now approved in the following countries:

— Australia
— Brazil
— Canada
— European Union
— Mexico
— New Zealand
Additional applications for approval exist in over 50 countries.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist

Editor: Medical News Today