Merck, Sanofi cancer vaccine wins European approval
The infectious disease vaccines market may swell to $18 billion by 2010, according to Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the world. Merck's vaccine targets four strains of HPV, two of which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases. Research presented September 3 at a conference in Prague indicated the product may protect women against as many as six additional strains of HPV. Further trials are being conducted. Merck's vaccine has been approved for sale in the US, where the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based drugmaker has waged a consumer awareness campaign designed to help seed the market for the vaccine. As recently as 18 months ago, Merck's research showed that fewer than 20% of American women knew that HPV causes cervical cancer.
The campaign is also designed to help ease concerns among parents worried about adding another routine childhood vaccine. Glaxo, Europe's largest drugmaker, asked European regulators for permission to market its own HPV vaccine in Europe in May. The company funded a study, presented last month, that shows using Cervarix could reduce the number of cases and deaths from cervical cancer in the UK by up to 76%. The Merck approval „is welcome news in the fight against cervical cancer, and we hope for similar European approval for Cervarix in the H1 of 2007,” Glaxo said in an e-mailed statement. Gardasil is given in three shots over a six-month period at a cost of $120 each in the US American experts recommended that the shots be given to 11- and 12-year-old girls and repeated before age 26. US researchers said that the vaccine should be mandatory for preteen girls. Gardasil may be given to girls as young as 9, Sanofi said. The product has won approval in Canada, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. (Bloomberg)
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