For the first time women will have a vaccine to protect themselves from cervical cancer as the United States has approved the sale of 'Gardasil' produced by American pharmaceutical giant Merck.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the vaccine, Gardasil, for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26 under its priority review process which allows an early release of products with potential to provide significant benefits.
Gardasil is a recombinant vaccine (contains no live virus) that is given as three injections over a six-month period and it works by preventing infection by four strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease.
However, females are not protected if they have been infected with that HPV type(s) prior to vaccination, indicating the importance of immunization before potential exposure to the virus.
Also, Gardasil does not protect against less common HPV types not included in the vaccine, thus routine and regular PAP screening remain critically important to detect precancerous changes in the cervix to allow treatment before cervical cancer develops.
'Not only have vaccines dramatically reduced the toll of diseases in infants and children, like polio and measles, but they are playing an increasing role protecting and improvi ng the lives of adolescents and adults,' Jesse Goodman, Director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said.