PEOPLE HOPING to buy GARDASIL, the world’s first vaccine against cervical cancer, due to hit Portuguese shelves nationwide on Monday, discovered that either it had not arrived in time or was not supplied at their pharmacy.
One pharmacist said: “We decided not to pre-order the vaccine as it is a very expensive product and we still do not know the expiry date.”
Another said that “as this vaccine is directed at younger people and the majority of the population we serve are elderly, we didn’t think it necessary to have the product in stock”.
Many of the pharmacies that did order the vaccine had not received it by Monday. “We had prepared our own labels for the vaccine as we wanted to price it independently, but it did not arrive in time, meaning we had to deal with many queries throughout the day,” said a Lisbon pharmacist.
Luis Valente, communications officer for Sanofi Pasteur MSD, the company responsible for Gardasil, said that there was always a possibility that the vaccine would arrive later than expected. He also confirmed that the product carried a three-month expiry date.
After undergoing extensive clinical trials, Gardasil was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 8 last year.
The drug is approved for use in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and countries in the European Union.
Gardasil is a prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, meaning that it is designed to prevent the initial establishment of HPV infections.
It is given in three injections over a six-month period with each dose costing 160.45 euros. Adverse effects can include pain, swelling, redness and itching.
On June 29, 2006, a panel of experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices (ACIP), gave their approval for the vaccination of Gardasil on children as young as nine. ACIP recommended that Gardasil be placed on the childhood immunisation schedule for 11 to 12-year-olds.
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