Merck & Co's cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, which is also marketed by Sanofi-Aventis, has been recommended in France for girls aged 14 years, the Sanofi Pasteur MSD joint venture has confirmed.

France's High Counsel of Public Health has made the recommendation that girls be protected before being exposed to the risk of infection with human papillomavirus, which causes precancerous and cancerous lesions, as well as genital warts. It also recommended offering vaccination to girls and young women aged 15 to 23 who have not yet had sexual relations, or in the year following the start of their sexual activity at the latest, Sanofi Pasteur MSD said.

The news follows the French health minister’s recent announcement that reimbursement for the vaccine by the country’s social security system should be in place by July 2007 at the latest. The recommendation highlights once again the positive response to Gardasil in Europe although in the USA, there has been considerable opposition to proposals of compulsory vaccination with the treatment and Merck recently suspended its lobbying campaign for laws requiring use of Gardasil.