Thursday, October 16, 2008

Merck Donates Gardasil Vaccine to Fiji Girls

Merck Company, producer of the HPV preventative drug, Gardasil, has recently donated over 100,000 vaccines to Fiji, valued at nearly $14 million. Their reason for doing so is thought to be due to a surplus of the drug, which has a short shelf life. 32,000 girls in Fiji between 9 and 12 will receive this free vaccine, which they normally would not be able to afford, as it costs over $400 for the three shot series.

Gardasil helps prevent Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection. Of the nearly 130 different strains of HPV, only 40 are transmitted sexually. HPV strains 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer, while strains 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts. Gardasil is thought to protect against HPV strains 6, 11, 16 and 18. Gardasil cannot cure HPV or cervical cancer.

The Fiji Cancer Society is expressing concern about the potential side effects of this drug. Gardasil is still in a post marketing surveillance period, and this fact is not being disclosed in the information pamphlets distributed to Fiji parents. They are worried about the unknown long term side effects as Gardasil was only released two years ago in June 2006.

Have you or anyone you know experienced any side effects associated with the HPV vaccine? Please share your experiences!

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