On the Agenda - Cervical vaccine choice causes row

A row has broken out over the Department of Health's decision to choose GlaxoSmithKline's cervical vaccine over rival Sanofi Pasteur's product for use as part of a new schoolgirl vaccination programme.

What's the problem?

GSK's Cervarix will offer protection against the two types of human papilloma virus responsible for 70 per cent of cervical cancers. However, Sanofi Pasteur's Gardasil vaccine also protects against genital warts. This has led to charities including the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) criticising the decision.

Who has said what?

'The UK is fated to be not just the poor man of Europe but also the warty one,' a THT spokesperson told the BBC. The Sanofi Pasteur press team released a comment saying it 'regretted' the decision, which would mean that schoolgirls in the UK would not benefit from the 'unmatched cervical cancer protection and additional benefits' of its Gardasil vaccine.

Media coverage

The story has been picked up by most of the nationals including The Guardian and FT. The BBC's health site also wrote an article on the developments.

Who handles the PR for each drug?

Red Door Communications handles the UK PR activity for the Gardasil vaccine since being appointed in 2005. Clew Communications bagged the combined account for Cervarix in February this year. It had held the consumer media account since 2005 but won the medical trade press account after GSK combined the briefs.

3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year

22% increase in genital warts cases in the past 10 years.

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