Huge rise in GP prescriptions of HPV vaccine
By Lilian Anekwe
GPs are increasingly prescribing the HPV vaccine to women who request it, amid confusing signals from the Department of Health.
The monthly prescribing rate for vaccination has jumped more than four-fold in the last year, despite doubts over whether PCTs would agree to fund it.
Since the first HPV vaccine because available, nearly two years ago, GPs have immunised nearly six thousand woman.
Half of those scripts were written in the first five months of this year, a 4.2-fold increase over the same period in 2007, figures obtained by Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act show.
The statistics, provided by the NHS Business Services Authority's Prescription Pricing Division, cover both Gardasil, licensed first in September 2006, and Cervarix, which was approved for use in the NHS immunisation programme.
The HPV vaccine will be given to all girls aged 12 or 13 through a school-based programme from next month, with a two-year catch up campaign targeting girls aged up to 18 starting in September 2009.
The Department of Health recently issued information packs to practices, but to date the only guidance it has given GPs was to provide the vaccine if a patient's ‘clinical circumstances warrants such action'.
A DH spokesperson told Pulse: ‘With the introduction of the national programme from September there will be very little reason for GPs to prescribe the HPV vaccine to girls in the age groups captured by the routine or catch up programmes.
‘The Department is still considering the position with regard to those girls aged 18 - 25 who do not fall within the routine or catchup cohorts.
‘We will issue guidance in due course. GPs have been advised that until further guidance is issued the vaccination should be prescribed on the basis of clinical judgement.'Huge rise in GP prescriptions of HPV vaccine