Merck and Glaxo PR hacks continue to deluge all media with “My Vaccine is Better than Your Vaccine” commercial jingles, youtube videos, interviews, dueling scientific papers, and lobby bucks, lots and lots of lobby bucks.
It’s no mystery why Merck and Glaxo are jostling for ascendancy here. Estimates of the market for HPV- vaccines run to several billions, even if their use was restricted to prevention of cervical cancer. And anyone who doesn’t expect ‘HPV vaccine mission creep’ hasn’t noted Merck’s well-documented market penetration Modus operandi.
My favorite Big Pharma newsletter, FiercePharma, reported on the media wars
It’s Merck v. Glaxo in vaccine battle
Call it the battle of the HPV vaccines. For the past week, either Merck’s Gardasil or GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix–or both–have captured headlines:
• Glaxo submits Cervarix for approval in Japan
• Merck donates millions of Gardasil doses for use in developing countries
• Glaxo applies for vaccine prequalification from the WHO
• Gardasil wins best new biotech product
• Cervarix approved for sale in Europe
• Merck hires PR firm to advocate for Gardasil
• Sanofi Pasteur files to extend Gardasil treatment
It’s no mystery why the drug makers are jostling for ascendancy here. Estimates of the market for these vaccines run to several billions, even if their use was restricted to prevention of cervical cancer.
Now there’s evidence that Gardasil may protect against cancers of the vagina and vulva, further bolstering its usefulness for women. Other research shows that HPV may cause throat and neck cancer in men, thus boys may need one of the vaccines, too–creating a whole new, unexpected market. So the stakes are even higher than they first seemed. And they were pretty darn high to start with.
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