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Study Finds Allergic Reactions To Gardasil Uncommon

December 3, 2008

Australian researchers said on Wednesday that a study of Merck & Co Inc’s cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil found that allergic reactions were uncommon and most young women can tolerate subsequent doses.

The study closely examined 25 Australian girls with suspected hypersensitivity to the vaccine which was administered as part of a national immunization program to all females aged 12 to 26 in the country beginning in 2007.

Sharon Choo of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and colleagues wrote in the British Medical Journal that more than 380,000 doses of the vaccine have been given under the program.

The study found: “Our clinical recommendation is that females with suspected hypersensitivity to the quadrivalent vaccine should be evaluated before receiving more doses, and any challenges with the same vaccine should be carried out in a supervised setting.”

The research team noted that some components of Merck’s treatment””such as aluminum salts and yeast””have been associated with allergic reactions.

But only 3 of the 25 girls with suspected hypersensitivity experienced probable reactions to the jabs. The team also noted that suspected reactions such as hives are often “idiosyncratic” and do not increase the risk of adverse reactions in subsequent shots.

Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Cervarix are administered to girls and young women to protect against cancer-causing strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.

Gardasil targets four strains of HPV — two responsible for cervical cancer and two causing the less serious condition of genital warts. Glaxo’s product targets the two cancer strains.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in October that girls and young women given Gardasil were no more likely than usual to faint, have an allergic reaction, blood clot or experience other adverse reaction.

The report was based on 375,000 doses of the vaccine given from August 2006 to July 2008 after the agency had received 10,326 reports of adverse events following HPV vaccination in the United States.

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