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Thursday, October 15, 2009 08:00 IST
A senior scientist involved in the clinical trials of cervical cancer vaccines in the country is reported to have expressed serious concern over the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. The warning has come at a time when Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has started long-term clinical study of the controversial HPV vaccine Gardasil for a possible universal vaccination programme in the country.
Coming close on the heels of the death of an 18-year-old girl after getting the HPV vaccination in UK recently, the researcher’s warning has once again raised several eyebrows among the scientist community over the effectiveness of the vaccine. Ever since the US FDA approved Gardasil vaccine on June 8, 2006 for use in girls and women nine to 26 years of age, there was severe criticism against the vaccine for its adverse effect.
According to published reports, Dr Diane Harper, one of the key researchers involved in the clinical trials of these vaccines, has openly admitted that the vaccine doesn’t even prevent cervical cancer. Dr Harper is reported to have stated that the vaccine will not decrease cervical cancer rates at all. Dr Harper also warned that the cervical cancer vaccine was being ‘over-marketed’ and that parents should be warned about the possible risk of severe side effects from the vaccine. She went on to even say that the vaccine itself is more dangerous than the cervical cancer it claims to prevent.
Meanwhile, the ICMR is going on its study on Gardasil in India. Funded by ICMR, the study is being conducted at multi locations in the country including Institute of Cytology & Preventive Oncology (ICPO), an arm of ICMR, at Noida near New Delhi. Gardasil, produced by US drug major Merck, is expected to protect against a variety of human papillomaviruses (HPV) which are known to cause most cases of cervical cancer.
Gardasil, the vaccine for the prevention of fatal cervical cancer and genital warts caused by certain types of HPV, has been used in many countries for universal vaccination and will be used for the same in India also, depending on the outcome of the feasibility study.