Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vaccine Against HPV Gets Positive Review

An experimental vaccine to prevent infection from a virus that causes cervical cancer appears effective with no major safety concerns, a Food and Drug Administration review has concluded.

The vaccine, Merck & Co.'s Gardasil, was designed to prevent infection with common types of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes warts and most cases of cervical cancer -- the second-biggest cancer killer in women.

FDA staff members are to present their analysis today to an advisory panel that will decide whether to recommend FDA approval. The FDA usually follows the guidance of advisory panels.

A final decision on whether to approve Gardasil is expected by June 8, putting Merck ahead of a potential rival vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

Vaccinations Urged in Mumps Outbreak Area

A government vaccine panel is urging mumps shots for everyone in the region of an outbreak unless they are immune to the virus from childhood exposure or from being vaccinated.

And health-care workers younger than 50 should get two doses unless they still have immunity from childhood, the immunization advisory committee said.

The more aggressive policy by the panel, which advises the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an effort to thwart outbreaks like the one plaguing Iowa and some other Midwestern states.

Officials in Iowa say there are more than 1,700 cases statewide, but the number is falling. Last week, the state urged people ages 18 to 46 to get vaccinated.

Since 1989, the government has recommended two doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine for all children, a regimen considered effective at preventing mumps in about 90 percent of people.

Substance Abuse and Teens' Injuries Linked

Nearly 40 percent of teenagers treated for injuries at one hospital had traces of alcohol or illegal drugs in their blood, U.S. researchers reported.

They said their finding, published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, suggested that it may be useful to screen young people treated for traumatic injuries for illegal substances.

The team at the University of Michigan Health System studied 443 patients ages 14 to 17 who were admitted to the University of Michigan's hospital for treatment of a severe injury between 1999 and 2003.

They found that 29 percent tested positive for opiates such as opium or heroin, 11.2 percent for alcohol and 20 percent for marijuana.

"The two major preventable health issues facing adolescents are injuries that result in death or disability, and lifestyle choices that have long-term, adverse health consequences," said Peter Ehrlich, who led the study. "To help alter this risk-taking behavior, it is essential that drug testing and brief substance abuse intervention programs be included in the treatment of all injured adolescents."

-- From News Services

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