Harvard Health Letter

Affordable HPV Vaccination

On June 29, 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) unanimously recommended Merck's new Human Papillomavirus vaccine, GARDASIL®, for girls and women 11 to 26 years old. The Committee also approved the vaccine for 9- and 10-year-old girls at the discretion of their physicians.

The GARDASIL vaccine is the only vaccine available in the United States for the prevention of HPV types 16- and 18- related cervical cancer. GARDASIL is to be administered in three separate doses over a six-month period. Each dose of GARDASIL currently sells for $120, putting a price tag of $360 on the full HPV vaccination. Merck has, however, been working hard to try to distribute the vaccine to those who cannot afford it, both within the U.S. and abroad.

Merck has recently announced the creation of a new patient assistance program for vaccines. Beginning in the third quarter of 2006, Merck will provide free vaccines to adults (U.S. residents age 19 or older) who are uninsured and cannot afford them. In addition, since 1994, Merck has provided vaccines to uninsured children through its Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, run in conjunction with the CDC. In June, the ACIP voted to add GARDASIL to the list of vaccines that will be distributed as part of the VFC program. Eligible children may receive GARDASIL through this program once the CDC contracts for the purchase of the vaccine have been completed.

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