Gardasil, the new cervical cancer vaccine manufactured by Merck & Co., could be a potent weapon against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and one day prove effective in men too, commentators feel.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Gardasil is a safe and effective drug and it is clearly part of the new frontier of cancer meds. Gardasil does not target cancers directly but the viruses that can lead to the disease, it is pointed out.
The vaccine works by boosting the immune system so that it effectively fights off two of the most common strains of human papilloma virus, the most prevalent STD in modern society. In North America, HPV is said to infect half of all sexually active women between 18 and 22.
In most women, HPV clears up on its own but for some, the infection persists and can lead a couple of decades later, when they are in their prime child-rearing years, directly to cervical cancer, one of the top killers of women around the world.
By most estimates as many as 250,000 women, most of them in less-developed countries, die each year of cervical cancer and French researchers have said that number could jump fourfold by 2050 if nothing is done.
In Canada, about 400 die from the disease each year and another 1,350 or so are diagnosed with it. Health Canada is following the U.S. decision and approving Gardasil for use on girls and women aged nine to 26 - or before they become sexually active. Health Canada gave the approval on July 18, 2006, and the vaccine is now available through Canadian doctors and pharmacists.
However, the decision is not without controversy. At $360 US for a course of three treatments, Gardasil takes its place as the most costly vaccine on the planet.
For manufacturer Merck & Co., the giant drug-maker that is still reeling from the recall of its once celebrated painkiller Vioxx, Gardasil is seen as something of a corporate life raft. Page: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
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