Drug's potential neutralizes concerns
A federal advisory panel has recommended approval of a vaccine that could greatly reduce death from cervical cancer.
A VACCINE that is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer should not run into any ideological roadblocks despite the Bush administration's strong ties to conservative Christian groups.
Unanimous approval by a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel and the vaccine's potential to reduce deaths from a cancer caused by a sexually transmitted virus will likely be enough to outweigh concerns among faith-based organizations.
The vaccine, called Gardasil, blocks strains of human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation. The drug is most effective when administered to girls before they become sexually active.
That young age lay at the heart of objections from conservative groups, who argued that giving girls the drug would send the wrong message about sexual activity. However, they recognize the benefits and say that as long as states don't require the vaccine, they find approval acceptable.
The FDA seldom rejects its panel's recommendations, though it has yet to clear an approved contraceptive drug because of opposition from such groups.
In this case, preventing a cancer that kills 4,000 women in the United States and 200,000 worldwide every year, as well as other diseases, trumps religious doctrine.
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