no guarantee against cervical cancer, Ritu Bhatia New Delhi, Women's groups
and doctors slammed advertisements issued by two pharmaceutical majors that
claimed vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) was the best way
of preventing cervical cancer. The objection from Sama Resource Centre for
Women and Health and Saheli Women's Resource Centre to Glaxo-SmithKline
(GSK) India and Merck marketing HPV vaccines as a "protection against
cervical cancer" comes a few days after the Central Drugs Standards
Control Organisation (CDSCO) also took notice of the advertisements. In
a showcause notice issued to GSK India, the CDSCO cited objections raised
by experts who said that the advertisements claiming that a vaccine can
prevent cervical cancer were inaccurate and misleading. According to doctors,
the drug majors appear to have oversimplified the complexity of cervical
cancer and this could mislead consumers.
also point out that protection from HPV need not always translate into protection
from cancer. "The vaccination doesn't always protect women from cervical
cancer because this virus isn't the only cause of cervical cancer,"
said Dr Sidharth Sahni, a surgical oncology consultant at Artemis Health
The available HPV vaccines protect against only two types of viruses associated
with cervical cancer. "There are several types of HPVs associated with
cervical cancer, and vaccines have not been proved to be effective against
all of them," said Bhudev Chandra Das, former director of the Institute
of Cytology and Preventive Oncology and now a professor of biomedical research
at Delhi University.
the HPV vaccine should be administered to adolescent girls. Over the past
year, paediatricians across the country have been urging parents of teenagers
to administer them this vaccine. But what many fail to mention is that this
should only be given to those who have had no sexual exposure. "We
first need to identify the target group for this vaccination," Sahni
added. Vani Subramaniam of Saheli said the pharmaceutical companies were
hiding information about the side effects of the vaccines. According to
Anjali Shenoy of Sama, the health lobby should concentrate more on increasing
awareness on screening the cancer rather than its vaccines.