Government's Urgent Call for HPV Vaccines; Merck & GSK to Benefit

The underuse of Human papillomaviruses vaccines is a "serious but correctable threat to progress against cancer," according to a report released by the President's Cancer Panel.

The President's Cancer Panel is urging the President to make this issue a priority on the Nation's public health agenda as well as urging doctors do more to stress the importance of the HPV vaccine, rather than presenting it as optional.

"Today, there are two safe, effective, approved vaccines that prevent infection by the two most prevalent cancer-causing types, yet  vaccination rates are far too low," said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, chair of the President's Cancer Panel.

The two FDA-approved vaccines are Merck's Gardasil (approved by the FDA in 2006) and GSK's Cervarix (approved by the FDA in 2009). The government push could mean good news for Gardasil and Cervarix, both of which have seen recent disappointing sales growth. Sales of Gardasil reached $1.8 billion in 2013, while sales of Cervarix declined to $283 million.

Public concerns have surrounded the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,  as well as the stigma that vaccinating children against HPV encourages promiscuity, despite recent studies disproving this theory.

The CDC estimates that increasing HPV vaccination rates from current levels to 80 percent would prevent an additional 53,000 future cervical cancer cases in the U.S. among girls who now are 12 years of age or younger.

Read the PR Newswire release

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