Cervical Cancer Vaccine - Not Effective?

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Researchers are questioning the cost-effectiveness of the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil.

The drug, which was introduced to the market in 2006, costs roughly $360 for a three-dose regimen.

Thus far, an estimated 8 million girls and young women have received the vaccine since its approval two years ago. But now The New England Journal of Medicine is outlining serious concerns.

It appears that for women in their mid-20s, the costly vaccine may be a waste of money.

A Matter of Timing

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is ideal to administer the drug to girls before they become sexually active - a sentiment backed up by a study published by the Harvard School of Public Health.

The Harvard study found that giving the vaccine to pre-adolescent girls was more cost-effective since girls that age are less likely to have been exposed to human papillomavirus, or HPV which can lead to cervical cancer.

And although the CDC has recommended Gardasil as a catch-up for those ages 13 to 26, assistant Harvard professor Jane Kim said that "under most scenarios, extending the catch-up to 26 wasn't cost-effective."

Moreover, Gardasil is unproven since it takes years to develop the cancer. Plus, the vaccine only guards against certain strains of HPV.

Dozens of states are considering making the shot mandatory. But experts caution that the vaccine needs many more years to prove itself.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press

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