May 14, 2007 / 8:00 AM / 12 years ago

Belgium recommends Merck's HPV vaccine for girls

LONDON (Reuters) - Belgium has joined Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Norway and Luxemburg in recommending that girls be vaccinated with Gardasil, the cervical cancer shot marketed by Merck & Co Inc and Sanofi-Aventis SA in Europe.

Sanofi Pasteur MSD, a 50/50 venture between the two firms, said on Monday authorities in Belgium recommended universal vaccination of girls aged 10 to 13 years.

Gardasil works by cutting the risk of infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes precancerous and cancerous lesions, as well as genital warts. It is viewed by analysts as a likely blockbuster for Merck, whose scientists developed it.

Gardasil has been approved in 70 countries worldwide, including the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia. GlaxoSmithKline Plc has a rival product called Cervarix awaiting approval.

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