Moral majority take on GSK and Merck over cancer drugs
Sunday 11 June 2006
Pharmaceutical giants Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are gearing up for a bruising showdown with America's religious right after the US medicines regulator approved a new blockbuster cervical cancer vaccine last week.
Conservative groups, including the influential Family Research Council (FRC), have voiced concerns that immunising young girls against the virus that most regularly causes cervical cancer, Human Papilloma- virus, may lead to sexual promiscuity. "We would oppose any measures to legally require vaccination or to coerce parents into authorising it," wrote the FRC in a recent letter to the US government. "Our primary concern is with the message that would be delivered to nine- to 12-year-olds with the administration of the vaccines. Care must be taken not to communicate that such an intervention makes all sex 'safe'."
The Food and Drug Administration's approval of Gardasil, Merck's vaccine, is likely to increase the volume of such complaints ahead of a meeting on 29 June of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The ACIP is the body that will recommend how, and if, Gardasil should be integrated in the schedule of other mandatory vaccines, such as against polio.
Glaxo filed for registration of its Cervarix vaccine in Europe in March, and expects to file in the US before the year is out. Merck expects approval in Europe later this summer.
Merck and Glaxo have been in discussions with Christian conservative groups in America to assuage their concerns. Lobbying organisations such as the FRC exercise considerable political power, and if they succeed in pushing their agenda it "certainly could have a negative impact" on the use of the vaccine, said Mike Ward, an analyst at Nomura Code Securities.
ACIP's decision will be crucial to the overall penetration of the vaccine in the US, the world's largest drug market. Merck plans to charge $360 (around £200) for the three-jab course given over six months. It estimates that in the US alone there are 32 million females between the ages of nine and 24 - the range for which the FDA approved the vaccine. This equates to $11.5bn.
Ideally, the vaccine should be given at an early age because the Human Papillomavirus it targets is the primary cause of cervical cancer and is passed through sexual contact.
The vaccine does not eliminate the virus in women who are already infected. "For a prophylactic vaccine, it should [be given] before the risk occurs," said Philipe Monteyne, head of Glaxo's vaccines unit.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
London property boom built on dirty money
Becky Watts: Stepbrother and his girlfriend named locally as two arrested on suspicion of murder
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...
£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...