Healthcare Industry News:  Papillomavirus 

Biopharmaceuticals Oncology Reimbursement

 News Release - July 25, 2006

Blue Shield Covers New Vaccine to Prevent Cervical Cancer

SAN FRANCISCO, July 25 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- Blue Shield of California has announced that it is now providing full coverage for human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil®, the first vaccine designed specifically to prevent cervical cancer.

The decision to cover Gardasil follows recommendations provided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help control the spread of HPV, a viral infection that is the cause of most cervical cancers.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Gardasil is a safe and effective drug that proved effective 100% of the time against the target strains of HPV that are responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancers. Gardasil works by boosting the immune system so that it effectively fights off two of the most common strains of HPV, the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease in modern society. It is estimated that approximately 20 million men and women in the United States are infected with HPV, which includes half of all sexually active women between 18 and 22.

The ACIP recommends routine vaccinations for female adolescents between 11 and 12 years of age and allows for vaccination of those between ages nine and 11 as well as 13 to 26 years of age. Gardasil will not prevent all cervical cancers and women are still advised to get Pap tests.

The American Cancer Society estimates that invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in approximately 10,000 women in the United States in 2006, and about 3,700 women will die from the disease. Certain types of HPV, which are sexually transmitted, have been shown to cause 70 percent of these cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.

"The ACIP's recent decision is consistent with our mission to provide access to quality medical care and our focus on health promotion and disease prevention, which includes childhood and adult immunizations," says Dr. John Yao, Blue Shield of California Senior Medical Director. "This vaccine will significantly decrease the transmission of HPV and the incidence of cervical cancer, and will improve the health status of our population as a whole."

ACIP recommends that Gardasil be administered in three doses over a six-month period to female adolescents ages 11 and 12. Girls as young as nine and women up to 26 years of age may also be considered for vaccination.

Founded in 1939, Blue Shield of California is one of the state's leading health care companies. Headquartered in San Francisco, the not-for-profit corporation has more than 3.3 million members, 4,500 employees and more than 20 office locations throughout California. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield website at www.mylifepath.com.


Source: Blue Shield of California

Issuer of this News Release is solely responsible for its content.
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