Cervical cancer vaccine approved

The cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil has received its European licence, allowing it to be marketed across the UK, makers Sanofi Pasteur said.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert advisory committee to the Department of Health, will now decide whether it should be made available on the NHS.

Gardasil works against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes changes in cells that leads to cervical cancer.

Gardasil protects against cervical cancer caused by HPV strains 6, 11, 16 and 18, and also against genital warts.

Around 80% of sexually active women can expect to have an HPV infection at some point in their lives, reports Guardian Unlimited.

"We will start the launch in the first country (in Europe) before the end of October. Our objective is to have the product available as quickly as possible," Didier Hoch, the president of Sanofi Pasteur MSD, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries would be among the first markets, he added.

The European approval for Gardasil came just nine months after it was first submitted for regulatory clearance -- an unusually short review time for new drugs and vaccines, according to Reuters.