Japan Terminates Recommendations for HPV Vaccines

Japan Terminates Recommendations for HPV Vaccines

June 18th, 2013 // 12:26 pm @

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In a big blog to pharmaceutical companies that sell HPV vaccines, the health ministry in Japan has pulled its recommendation for getting vaccinations after there were hundreds of reports of side effects, including numbness and long term pain problems, among other issues. The vaccines are going to be available still, but health officials have been instructed to not promote any more vaccinations while clinical studies are being done on the problems.

This decision does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with the vaccine that makes it unsafe, according to Mariko Momoi, vice president of the International University of Health and Welfare. The government does want to start investigations, however so that they can provide the public with more information.

At this point, over three million people have received vaccinations, and there have been almost 2000 cases of side effects, such as body pain. However a direct relationship between the vaccination and the pain could not be determined, so the ministry decided to run further tests.

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Merck, which sells Gardasil, has stated publicly that a direct relationship has not been established between the vaccines and the serious symptoms. But the company understands the anxiety of the public in Japan. That is why Merck is collaborating with the government in Japan to both monitor and to verify all safety data, so that promotion of HPV vaccinations can continue.

This move by the ministry of health in Japan comes at a time where there is concern over HPV vaccinations. In early 2013, the Pediatrics journal published a new study that looked at vaccinations in the US for teens from 13-17 between 2008-10. It discovered a large number of parents think that the shots are not necessary and they worry about side effects.

About 40 percent of parents noted that they did not want to vaccinate their female children against papillomarivus, which can cause cervical cancer. That number rose to 44% in 2010.

Vaccinations are controversial in the US for other reasons. Some parents here think that getting the HPV vaccine can encourage teenagers to engage in sex in high school.

Nevertheless, Gardisil is a big seller in the US for Merck. In 2012, the vaccine had $1.6 billion in sales, which is up 65% from 2010.

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