The first vaccine against cervical cancer will be available in the US to girls as young as nine later this month.
Its manufacturer, Merck, is already taking orders for Gardasil. The three-shot series costs $360 (€284.65).
The newly-approved vaccine works by preventing infection by four of the dozens of strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease.
The Food and Drug Administration licensed it for use in girls and women aged nine to 26. It’s still being studied in males.
Gardasil protects against the two types of HPV responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases.
The vaccine also blocks infection by two other strains responsible for 90% of genital wart cases.
Whether Gardasil enters routine use depends on what the national Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices recommends at a June 29 meeting. The panel’s endorsement is critical.
Clinical trials showed Gardasil prevented 100% of cervical cancer related to the two HPV strains in women who had not been previously infected, Merck said.
It also prevented 99% of the cases of genital warts caused by the two other strains.