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UK switches from GSK's Cervarix to Merck’s Gardasil for HPV vaccine

Department of Health opts to replace GSK’s Cervarix with vaccine that offers protection against both cervical cancer and genital warts

The UK's Department of Health (DH) has said it will switch to Gardasil, supplied by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, in its vaccination programme for the human human papillomavirus (HPV).

Currently, the government uses GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Cervarix product to protect girls against the virus which can lead to cervical cancer, but made the decision to switch vaccines in September 2012 based on a desire to have a vaccine that could protect against more diseases.

Gardasil also offers protection against the strains of HPV virus than can cause genital warts.

GSK said it had not participated in the final tender process for the vaccine.

It said: “The criteria for this year's re-tender show that the government's priorities have shifted from cervical cancer to also incorporate HPV-related non-cervical cancers and an increased focus on protecting young girls against genital warts.”

GSK's general manager for the UK, Simon Jose, said: “This was a difficult decision for us to make but the criteria for the tender were changed. We are proud to have played our part in the success of the UK's first HPV immunisation programme which has uptake among the best in the world.”

The HPV programme, implemented in September 2008, recommends the HPV vaccine be offered routinely to females aged 12 to 13 years, as well as a catch-up programme for girls up to 18 years of age.

The DH said over 1.5 million individuals have been protected.

Professor David Salisbury, the government's Director of Immunisation, said: “From next September, Gardasil will be the vaccine that we offer to girls to protect them against the HPV infection. It's not unusual for the NHS to change vaccines or other medicines – it can happen following competitive tendering exercises or when new research findings come to light."

Commenting on the decision, Richard Stubbins, vice president of Sanofi Pasteur MSD, said: “We have worked closely with the Department of Health to support public health immunisation in the UK for over 25 years. I am delighted we are now helping to protect young women against the burden of HPV diseases with the four type vaccine.

"We hope that the UK will benefit not only from protection against cervical cancer but also from a reduction in the burden posed by genital warts. This has been the experience from Australia, the first country to fund a vaccination programme with Gardasil.”

28th November 2011

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