Merck, maker of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil, has announced it will be partnering with the French drug company Sanofi-Aventis to release the HPV vaccine in Europe before the end of the year. Germany, Britain, and the Netherlands will be the first to launch the vaccine, with France, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Austria, and Portugal following later in 2006. Spain, Italy, and Greece will launch the drug in early 2007.
The HPV vaccine is aimed towards women ages nine-26 to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil has been found to be most effective when given to young women before they become sexually active, as the vaccine only prevents contraction of the disease, and does not treat infected women. Gardasil is the first immunization recommended for children that prevents a sexually transmitted disease.
According to the FDA, over half of sexually active women will contract HPV in their lifetime. The FDA also states that HPV is responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts cases. The HPV vaccine is already available in the US, Australia, and Mexico.