GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced that the Medicines Control Council (MCC) has granted permission for the scheduling status of its cervical cancer vaccine to change. The new scheduling status of Schedule 2 (S2) means that the vaccine is now available throughout South Africa without prescription from a doctor.
A similar product by MSD, is also a S2. "Although it is available over the counter, we encourage people to contact a medical professional before using it," says MSD's Lindi-Mari Goodfellow.
GSK's vaccine was first registered in South Africa in February this year with a Schedule 4 status (S4). Patients who wanted to be vaccinated with the vaccine therefore first had to consult a doctor in order to obtain a prescription.
GSK's cervical cancer vaccine is a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine indicated for the prevention of precancerous cervical lesions associated with the most common cervical cancer-causing HPV types 16 and 18.
"We believe that the revised scheduling status change will greatly enhance accessibility for South African women. Without the need to obtain a prescription first women can simply go to a vaccination clinic in order to receive the potentially life-saving vaccination," said David Pritchard, General Manager of GSK South Africa.
"Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in South African women. It is a little-known yet disquieting fact that more women develop and die of cervical cancer than any other type of cancer in South Africa. We need to do everything we can to make this vaccine as accessible as possible for as many women as possible."
Worldwide a woman dies of cervical cancer every two minutes. In South Africa these statistics are still worse - each year approximately 6 700 women will develop cervical cancer while an estimated 3 700 will die from it. In South Africa a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer in her lifetime is one in 26.
According to Pritchard protection strategies against cervical cancer should include routine screening together with a vaccine designed to provide targeted, durable protection against the most common cancer-causing types.
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