All young girls
ages 11 and 12 should take Merck's vaccine to prevent
cervical cancer, as should 13- to 26-years-olds if they have
not received it already, U.S. advisers decided on
Thursday. The vote of the Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices is not binding but guides decisions
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which in
turn advises schools, insurers, and individuals.
In a complicated
vote, the committee agreed to recommend the vaccine for
three age groups--all young girls ages 11 and 12;
girls and women ages 13 to 26 who have not yet
received the vaccine; and women who have had abnormal
Pap smears, genital warts, or certain other conditions.
And at their
discretion physicians could vaccinate girls as young as 9,
the panel decided.
month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed
Gardasil for use in women and girls 9 to 26 years of age. It
protects against four types of human papillomavirus.
The idea is to vaccinate girls before they ever get
infected with HPV.
could make for blockbuster sales for Merck, with some
analysts predicting annual sales of more than $3 billion
within the next few years. (Reuters)