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GSK gets UK vaccine contract

GlaxoSmithKline has been awarded the contract to supply the Department of Health in the UK with its human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, Cervarix, for a national vaccination programme
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been awarded the contract to supply the Department of Health in the UK with its human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, Cervarix, for a national vaccination programme.

Health minister, Dawn Primarolo, said that the GSK vaccine could save the lives of 400 women every year and called it an "exciting opportunity to immunise young girls" against HPV, a virus which can lead to cervical cancer.

The government has laid out what the health minister has referred to as "ambitious plans" for UK-wide vaccinations of girls aged between 12 and 13 years, with a catch-up programme in place for those aged between 14 and 18 years. GSK says that the scheme will be rolled out in September 2008 and will be implemented over the next two to three years.

"This is great news for girls and women across the UK and reflects the growing confidence in Cervarix, which provides cervical cancer protection with a strong and sustained immune response," said Eddie Gray, president of pharmaceuticals Europe for GSK.

"The benefits of this programme will be felt by women and their families for generations to come," he continued. Cervarix has been chosen over Gardasil, which is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur MD.

Sanofi Pasteur has questioned the decision by UK authorities to use the GSK drug, which it claims protects against only two types (16 and 18) of HPV.

Gardasil has been developed to immunise against HPV types 6,11,16 and 18.

"We regret that schoolgirls in the UK, unlike most of their peers in Western Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, will not benefit from the unmatched cervical cancer protection and additional benefits provided by Gardasil," said Dr Nicholas Kitchin, UK medical director at Sanofi Pasteur.

19th June 2008

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