FDA backs HPV vaccines as panel vote looms

With an expert FDA panel scheduled to meet on Wednesday to review new applications to market Cervarix to prevent cervical cancer in women and expand the use of Gardasil to prevent genital warts in males, both GlaxoSmithKline and Merck got key support from FDA staffers.

On Friday, the FDA said that GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix is effective in preventing the two most common types of cervical cancers 93 percent of the time. And the staff report discounted any potential links between the vaccine and muscular and neurological problems, which has delayed an approval since 2007. The FDA also agreed that Gardasil was effective in preventing male genital warts.

The review of these new applications is only likely to heat up the whole controversy surrounding the HPV vaccines. Both vaccines have been harshly criticized by social conservatives in the U.S. And some medical experts have joined in as well, arguing that screening can be an equally effective method in stopping cancer. Nevertheless, more than 100 countries have approved the vaccines and many strongly support their use, noting high rates of efficacy.  

- read the story from the AP on Cervarix
- read the Wall Street Journal report on Gardasil