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Friday 28th October 2016

Cervical cancer jab doubts

28th September 2011

The government’s choice of vaccine to immunise teenage girls against the viruses that cause cervical cancer has been brought into question.

It is now feared the least cost-effective vaccine may have been picked when the Department of Health opted for the cheaper option Cervarix – made by GSK - in 2008.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has concluded that Gardasil, made by Merck & Co, could provide better value.

The NHS list price for Cervarix is £80.50 per dose while Gardasil is £88.50 per dose.

While both vaccines are good at cutting human papilloma virus-related cervical cancer rates, the study in the British Medical Journal say considerable uncertainty remains about the differential benefit of the two vaccines.

Both vaccines protect against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause more than 70% of cervical cancer cases, but Gardasil also protects against types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts, a condition costing the NHS £17m a year.

That has led researchers to revise their estimates of the cost benefits of the two vaccines.

A HPA spokeswoman said: “Deciding which vaccine to use for national immunisation programmes is a complex task. Many factors, including the cost of the vaccine, must be taken in to account.

“The Department of Health will use the results of this study as part of its decision-making process when reviewing its current vaccine choice.”

The Department of Health said discussions about what vaccine to buy in the future were concluding and that with an announcement to be made in due course.


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