Israeli Health Ministry amends cervical cancer vaccine recommendations

In an effort to make a recent cervical cancer vaccine decision stick, Israel's Health Ministry amended recommendations by the Health Basket Committee prior to cabinet approval.

The committee recommended that Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine manufactured by MSD, be included in Israel's vaccine schedule. The Health Ministry's amendment, which went to the cabinet for approval on Sunday, will make it possible for the country to also buy Cervarix, a competing vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline. Both vaccines are effective against cervical cancer and Gardasil also protects against genital warts, Haaretz reports.

The ministry conducted a tender for the vaccine prior to the health basket panel's recommendations. Cervarix won the tender six weeks ago, committing the ministry to purchasing Cervarix vaccines for at least a year.

Cervarix offered a bid to the Health Ministry that was 10 percent lower than Gardasil's. Last week, the bid for Gardasil was dropped prior to the panel made its decision. The ministry expressed anger that MSD offered the panel a lower price than it previously bid in the ministry tender.

"A letter is being prepared to the CEO of MSD International that describes the problematic behavior of MSD in promoting its vaccine during this period," the ministry said, according to Haaretz.

The health ministry plans to administer the vaccine to Israel's 52,000 eighth grade girls.

The amendment of the committee's recommendations marked the first time the ministry used its authority to enact such a change, Haaretz reports.