In response to “a very low market demand,” GlaxoSmithKline has decided to stop selling its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix in the United States, according to FiercePharma. The move gives Merck’s Gardasil unchallenged dominance of the HPV vaccine market in this country.
Last year, Cervarix earned only about $3.7 million in the U.S. out of a $107 million worldwide total. In contrast, the global total for Merck’s Gardasil franchise was $1.9 billion.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year placed HPV vaccination rates at 42% of girls and 28% of boys ages 13 to 17 years––far short of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ goal of 80% for both boys and girls by 2020.
To combat the public’s lukewarm response, the CDC and other cancer organizations are urging health care providers to promote the cancer-prevention benefits of HPV vaccines rather than stressing that they protect against sexually transmitted infections, which puts off some parents who worry the vaccine will promote promiscuity or who feel that their preteens are too young to need the shots, according to the Wall Street Journal.
HPV, which is transmitted sexually, can cause at least six types of cancer as well as genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for boy and girls at age 11 or 12 and is also given at other ages.
Experts are urging pediatricians to present the vaccine as routine, rather than different from other preteen shots. They are also stressing completion of the vaccine series by age 13.
Merck, the maker of Gardasil, is currently airing an ad on national television that puts the onus on parents to get their children vaccinated.