GlaxoSmithKline has received more good news about Cervarix with the news that a US government advisory panel has recommended routine use of the cervical cancer vaccine.

GSK noted that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has backed routine administration of Cervarix for 11-12-year-old girls to protect against cervical pre-cancersand cervical cancer associated with human papillomavirus types 16 and 18. In addition, the recommendation includes a catch up for girls and young women who have not previously been vaccinated, which for the approved age range for Cervarix includes 13-25 year old girls and young women.

The ACIP has also unanimously recommended to provide funding for Cervarix from the Vaccines for Children (VFC) programme which provides treatments at no cost to children up to 18 years of age who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. The jab is expected to be commercially available in the USA in late 2009.

This is very good news for GSK, coming less than a week after the US Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to Cervarix, finally allowing the vaccine to compete across the Atlantic against Merck & Co’s rival jab Gardasil.

Gardasil for boys not recommended
However the ACIP had some bad news for Merck, saying that Gardasil should not be routinely given to males aged nine to 26, to prevent genital warts, due to concerns about the cost. The panel believes that a more cost-effective way to prevent disease related to HPV would be to improve coverage among girls and women.

Instead, the ACIP recommended “permissive use” of Gardasil for young men to reduce the likelihood of acquiring genital warts “at the discretion of the patient's health care provider”. It also voted to recommend that funding be provided for the use of the jab in males through the VFC programme.