February 19, 2009 / 4:48 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-EU agency says Gardasil vaccine safe to use

(adds details, background)

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - European regulators gave Merck and Co Inc’s (MRK.N) Gardasil a clean bill of health on Thursday, saying the cervical cancer vaccine was safe and did not make two Spanish girls ill.

The European Medicines Agency said its committee of experts had reviewed the cases of the two girls who became ill after the shots and determined their illness was unlikely to be related to vaccination with Gardasil.

“Therefore the Committee is recommending that vaccination with Gardasil should continue in accordance with national vaccination programmes in member states,” the EU agency said.

Earlier this week, the Spanish region of Valencia resumed cervical cancer vaccinations with Gardasil after its use was halted when two girls fell ill. Both had received injections from the same batch of the drug.

Merck markets the vaccine, which protects against cancer-causing strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), in Europe with Sanofi-Aventis SA (SASY.PA).

It competes with GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s (GSK.L) Cervarix.

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