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VANCOUVER, Aug. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - A new study, conducted by Ipsos Reid
among 3,686 parents of teenage girls in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and
Quebec, shows that 77 per cent of respondents are "strongly in favour" of the
Federal Government's decision to make funds available to the provinces for
free, school-based HPV vaccination programs. In fact, 93 per cent of vaccine
supporters said such a program should be implemented "right away" or at the
beginning of the upcoming school year.
"The results of this very large study are clear: Parents want
provincially-funded HPV vaccination programs and they want them now," said
Dawn Graham, President of Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. "Many medical organizations
have already lauded the Federal Government's decision to make funds available
to the provinces for free HPV vaccination programs and their views are shared
by parents in the four largest Canadian provinces."
Women speak out about cervical cancer
Stephanie Nicolls, a successful 48-year-old woman from Vancouver, was
diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was just 36. Cervical cancer and the
necessary radiation therapy she underwent catastrophically affected her life,
compromising her immune system, leaving her with bowel and bladder disorders,
and rendering her infertile.
"Cervical cancer is an awful disease. You not only fight to survive the
cancer and the very harsh treatment - which not all women survive - but if you
do survive, there's also an ongoing struggle with the physical and emotional
fallout, such as being sterilized by the radiation treatment and being left
unable to ever have children," said Stephanie Nicolls.
"I think the BC government will want to be leaders and should take
advantage of this major medical advance and implement a school-based
vaccination program immediately. It's fantastic to think that a vaccine can
help protect young girls from cervical cancer. It's not just a matter of life
and death, it's also a matter of preserving health and fertility so that the
cycle of life, of new babies, of children and grandchildren, can happen,"
Stephanie's mother Nena Nicolls does not equivocate: "If there was a
vaccine available for HPV when my daughter was young, she most certainly would
have received it, no matter what the cost. We want to do everything for our
kids. Schools give our children vaccinations for mumps and measles, so why not
a vaccine to prevent them from death or sterility from cervical cancer? We
teach our children how to swim to protect them from drowning, so why on earth
wouldn't we protect them from the virus that causes cervical cancer?"
Each year, approximately 1,350 Canadian women are diagnosed with cervical
cancer and almost 400 will die from the disease. The lifetime risk of
developing genital warts is approximately 10 per cent.
Significant milestones achieved in last 12 months
On July 10, 2006, Health Canada approved GARDASIL(R), (Quadrivalent Human
Papillomavirus (Types 6, 11, 16, 18) Recombinant Vaccine), the first and only
vaccine uniquely designed for the prevention of cervical, vulvar and vaginal
cancers, as well as precancerous lesions at these sites and genital warts
caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Since becoming available in pharmacies
across the country, over 100,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed.
In late January 2007, the Canadian National Advisory Committee on
Immunization (NACI) recommended that all females between the ages of nine and
13 be routinely vaccinated and that women between the ages of 14 and 26 also
be vaccinated, even if they are already sexually active. The NACI
recommendation was endorsed by many Canadian medical organizations including
the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the
Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada (GOC).
The Federal Government then announced in March 2007 that it would make
$300 million available over the next three years to provinces and territories
to support the launch of an HPV vaccination program. This decision was
supported by the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, an organization that
had previously showed support for HPV vaccination with a drive for widespread,
equitable access on International Women's Day.
In collaboration with six national health organizations, the SOGC
announced it was releasing a newly developed national clinical guideline on
HPV in late June 2007. The announcement stated that the guideline represents
an exhaustive review of scientific evidence regarding the management,
treatment and prevention of HPV-related diseases and provides clear
recommendations for healthcare professionals on the use of the vaccine.
Ontario, Nova Scotia and PEI announce vaccination programs
The Ontario government formerly announced last week that it will offer
Grade 8 girls the vaccine beginning this fall. The voluntary, school-based,
vaccination program will be administered by public health nurses with consent
forms and information provided to parents and guardians ahead of time.
Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to launch a publicly funded
HPV vaccination program. Starting this fall, girls in Grade 7 will be offered
the HPV vaccine as part of Nova Scotia's school-based vaccination program.
Dr. Heather Morrison, PEI's Chief Health Officer, also said last week
that her province plans to make the HPV vaccine available on a voluntary basis
to all Grade 6 girls this fall. A formal announcement is expected soon.
About Merck Frosst
At Merck Frosst, patients come first. Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. is a
research-driven pharmaceutical company. Merck Frosst discovers, develops and
markets a broad range of innovative medicines to improve human health. Merck
Frosst is one of the top 20 R&D investors in Canada, with an investment of
$114 million in 2006. The Company is committed to fostering partnerships to
deliver the most valuable health outcomes for Canadian patients. More
information about Merck Frosst is available at http://www.merckfrosst.com.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is
defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These
statements are based on management's current expectations and involve risks
and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set
forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements
regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No
forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ
materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly
update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information,
future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release
should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck's
business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements in Item 1
of Merck's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2006, and in its periodic
reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, which the Company incorporates by
For further information:
For further information: Sheila Murphy, Manager, Public Affairs, Merck
Frosst Canada Ltd., (514) 428-2748; Sara Sauvé, NATIONAL Public Relations,