Merck, Januvia and Blood Pressure Medicine

Friday, December 01, 2006

Merck Markets Cancer Vaccine Discovered by Louisville Doctors

In 2003, University of Louisville faculty created the world's first preventive cancer vaccine that is 100 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer caused by two common strains of the human papilloma virus. This vaccine is now being marketed by Merck & Co. under the trade name Gardasil. The drug is also notable because, in one of natures cruel ironies, it is derived from compounds found in the tobacco plant. Researchers at the University of Louisville are still working to see if they can breed a hybrid tobacco plant to create the complex compounds for them, without laboratory intervention. This would create a drastically less expensive drug and as such make it more accessible worldwide.
Gardasil Basics:

Gardasil is a new vaccine being made by Merck & Co., Inc. and which has been approved by the FDA to prevent cervical cancer in females between the ages of 9 and 26 years of age.

What Gardasil Is Used For:

Gardasil is a vaccine against the HPV or Human Papillomavirus. The Gardasil vaccine protects recipients against 4 types of HPV, including the two types that cause most cervical cancers and the two types that cause the most genital warts.

Gardasil Controversy:

Some experts think that Gardasil may lead to controversy because some parents will have problems thinking about giving a vaccine against a STD to pre-teens. Other parents might not want a vaccine against a STD at all, believing that their children could not be at risk. And still others think that Gardasil might encourage promiscuity, since it could foster the belief that it protects against STDs.

HPV Facts:

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts, abnormal Pap tests, and cervical cancer.

  • About 20 million people are infection with HPV in the United States and almost 3,700 women die of cervical cancer in the US each year.
  • Since many people have no symptoms and not even know that they are infected with HPV, they can pass on their HPV infection to their sexual partners without knowing.
  • There is no cure for HPV infections.

Gardasil Facts:

Gardasil won't prevent all forms of genital warts or cervical cancers, but it is highly effective at preventing genital warts and cervical cancers that are caused by the types of HPV that the vaccine targets.

  • Gardasil will be given as a three dose series completed over 6 months.
Who Should Get Gardasil:

Since Gardasil prevents HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, it is important that it be given before people become sexually active. In fact, the ACIP recommends that Gardasil be routinely given to girls when they are 11 or 12 years of age. Gardasil can be started as early as age 9 though, and can also be given to women 13 to 26 years old.

Gardasil Side Effects:

According to the CDC, so far in testing, 'there appear to be no serious side effects. The most common side effect is brief soreness at the injection site.'

What You Need To Know:

  • Gardasil is not a 'STD vaccine' in the sense that it prevents all STDs. It simply provides protection against certain types of HPV, but not other STDs, such as HIV or herpes.
  • Cervarix is another HPV vaccine that is being developed by GlaxoSmithKline.
  • Genital HPV Infection - CDC Fact Sheet.
  • HPV Vaccine - CDC Fact Sheet.
  • CDC Cervical Cancer Screening Fact Sheet.
  • Immunization against genital human papillomaviruses. Bonnez W - Pediatr Infect Dis J - 01-NOV-2005; 24(11): 1005-6.
Updated: December 1, 2006


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