The China FDA has approved cervical disease test CINtec PLUS Cytology from Basel-based Roche, bolstering the company's offering in China where nearly 62,000 new cases of cervical cancer are reported annually.
Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and public health officials in the United States have some big new numbers to tout to promote HPV vaccination. On Monday, a group of federal researchers said that since the introduction of Gardasil in 2006, HPV infection rates in teenage girls have fallen by nearly two-thirds.
All 69 of the United States' National Cancer Institute-designated centers have joined together to issue a statement urging an increase in HPV vaccinations, declaring the vaccines "tragically underused" and calling low uptake a "public health threat."
For years, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have battled safety worries and other stigmas with their HPV vaccines. But this week, the companies received a piece of positive news from the European Medicines Agency, which reported that a committee found no link between the shots and two rare conditions it had been studying.
The recommended schedule for HPV vaccination is two or three doses, but some patients never make it back for all of the shots. This may cease to be a concern if future trials prove what scientists reported on Wednesday: A single dose of GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix could work as well as the recommended two- or three-dose regimens at preventing the majority of cervical cancers.
The Serum Institute of India, the world's fifth largest vaccinemaker by volume, is eyeing newer vaccines, including one for the human papillomavirus expected to be launched by late 2018 and sell at a third of the price of Merck & Co.'s blockbuster Gardasil, Bloomberg reported.
Back in 2012, the GAVI Alliance announced plans to help immunize 30 million girls in 40 countries with HPV vaccines by 2020. Wednesday, the Children's Investment Fund Foundation chipped in toward that goal with a $25 million investment that will be matched through the U.K.'s Department of International Development.
Now that the European Commission has officially approved a two-dose Gardasil regimen for early teens, Merck and Sanofi will see the number of shots per patient fall. But that doesn't mean they'll necessarily take a sales hit, with the move potentially expanding overall access and providing a bump both drugmakers could use.
The President's Cancer Panel is urging federal and state health authorities to do a better job protecting children from preventable cancers by improving access to the HPV vaccine, which could mean a big bump in sales.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked into the reasons behind low uptake of GlaxoSmithKline's and Merck's human papillomavirus vaccines last year, the effect of parental attitudes to sex grabbed the headlines. Yet while parents may fear the vaccine will lead to risky sex, all the evidence suggests otherwise.