Roche-sponsored blog pushes HPV test in UK
Brighton-based journalist Nikki Bayley aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of screening with the blog, titled My Diary From Down Under (she also Tweets at @nikkibayley). There's no branding on the blog, a homespun-feeling affair featuring humorous anecdotes and tips — though you can read about the Roche test on the About page, which carries a disclaimer noting that the blogger is paid by Roche (“but the views are mine”), and advises that: “Healthcare company Roche has developed an HPV test which screens for the high-risk types of HPV, and yes, you can access that test.” The blog is also endorsed by charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Around a thousand women die of cervical cancer each year in the UK, where women are invited to an NHS screening every 3-5 years, depending on age. Roche Diagnostics' Cobas HPV test, the third-to-market molecular genotyping test for HPV and the first to offer concurrent testing for the two most dangerous types of the virus, launched in Europe in 2009 and won FDA approval in April, and is indicated for use in conjunction with a pap smear.
The test is not, however, included in the NHS screening program. Roche's Paul Eros, director of molecular diagnostics, made the case for Cobas in the news release announcing the blog.
“Lasest scientific research from around the world indicates that testing for HPV is a surer method of pinpointing high-risk cases of cervical pre-cancer since the virus associated with 99.7% of all cervical cancer. Currently, the screening program does not test on a routine basis for the presence of HPV. Doing so could lead to better detection of those women at risk. Also, women who are not at risk benefit from attending screens less often, leading to cost and efficiency savings for the NHS. It is important to note that HPV testing still involves women going in for their screens and this is a very clear message in the blog.”