PHARMACY

Prevention experts recommend broadening HPV vaccination efforts to prevent cervical cancer

BY Jenna Duncan

WASHINGTON U.S. researchers are encouraging a more proactive push towards vaccinating a greater age range of women against the human papilloma virus—the virus known for causing more cases of cervical cancer, reports on Saturday said. The researchers have predicted that by extending the range of women vaccinated against HPV to 45, the rate of new cases of cervical cancer could be cut in half.

This projection was based on 100 percent vaccination rates for American women ages 12 through 45, reports said. Based on total vaccination, the cervical cancer rates could be reduced cancer by 85 percent in women ages 12 and up, and by 55 percent for those age 45. The vaccination Cervarix was found to be 95 percent effective in protecting against HPV types 16 and 18, and 27 percent effective against all other high-risk types of HPV.

Researchers from the University of Alabama announced at a Washington meeting of the American Society for Microbiology and the Infectious Diseases Society of America that the rate could be decreased by 34 to 67 percent for 25-year-old women, if the mass vaccination was effective. That figure included results from clinical trials of Merck’s Gardasil, not yet available in the United States, but which has received approval in Europe.

Though the preventive research looks promising, researchers also said that the vaccination is not effective in preventing cervical cancer in women who have already been infected with HPV. It is estimated that about 11,070 new cervical cancer cases will have been diagnosed in the United States by the close of 2008.

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Rheumatoid arthritis drugs don’t affect cancer risk, researchers find

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO Spanish researchers have found that drugs for rheumatoid arthritis called TNF blockers don’t appear to increase the risk of cancer, the researchers announced Saturday.

The drugs block a protein called the tumor necrosis factor, which is part of the immune system and is linked to arthritic inflammation. Some studies have shown that they increase the risk of cancer because they suppress the immune system, but the researchers did not find a statistical difference between the two groups of patients studied.

The research included one group of 4,500 people who took TNF blockers between 2001 and 2007, and another that included data from between 1999 and 2005 from almost 800 people who did not take the drugs.

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FDA approves Barr extended-cycle oral contraceptive

BY Alaric DeArment

MONTVALE, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a Barr Pharmaceuticals subsidiary’s application for a new oral contraceptive, Barr said Monday.

The FDA approved Duramed Pharmaceuticals’ drug LoSeasonique (levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol tablets and ethynyl estradiol tablets).

Barr said the drug is the first lower-dose, extended-cycle oral contraceptive. Under the extended-cycle regimen, women take combination tablets containing 0.1 mg of levonorgestrel and 0.02 mg of ethinyl estradiol for 84 consecutive days, followed by tablets containing 0.01 mg of ethinyl estradiol for seven days. The regimen is designed to reduce the number of withdrawal bleeding periods from 13 to four per year.

“As a leader in women’s health, Duramed is committed to continuing to develop new products that provide women a choice as they discuss birth control options with their healthcare providers,” Duramed chief executive officer Fred Wilkinson said.

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