Merck & Co., Inc.'s New HPV Vaccine Could Rejuvenate The Market Despite Current Challenges, Ssys GlobalData Analyst

Published: Nov 15, 2013

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LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 15 November 2013 — Despite being hampered both by apathy and resistance in recent years, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine market is expected to receive an additional boost from Merck’s novel candidate V503, which offers protection against five HPV types not covered by current vaccines; however, effective marketing efforts must be made to ensure sufficient uptake of this new product, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Recently, Merck announced that V503 has performed well in Phase III trials, demonstrating 97% efficacy against precancerous lesions caused by the additional five HPV types it contains.

Robert Wilson, GlobalData's Analyst covering Infectious Disease, says: “The introduction of a new vaccine offers an opportunity to rejuvenate the HPV vaccines marketplace, which is currently inhabited by Merck’s quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil and GSK’s bivalent offering Cervarix.

“However, a number of challenges remain within the marketplace. These need to be overcome to allow V503 to realize its full potential, and the vaccine itself may be part of the solution.”

In recent years, uptake of Gardasil amongst eligible girls in the US has stagnated, at approximately 50%. Despite extensive marketing campaigns both by Merck and GSK, there is a general lack of awareness of HPV and the benefits of vaccines for the infection worldwide.

Still, the expansion of HPV vaccines to males has driven a recent increase in Gardasil sales in the US. Additionally, Australia has become the first country to offer HPV vaccination to boys in schools.

“Vaccinating boys offers an excellent opportunity to expand HPV vaccine sales, and a 9-valent vaccine would be well-placed to capitalize upon. However, to achieve widespread use in males, V503 will need to be priced appropriately, with cost-effectiveness considerations in mind,” Wilson says.

GlobalData expects the introduction of this vaccine to happen in the US as early as next year, providing an opportunity for the creation of a fresh image for HPV treatment.

Wilson continues: “If V503’s US regulatory submission is received favorably and the vaccine’s eventual introduction is supported by effective marketing efforts, its launch may act as a catalyst to push up coverage rates amongst females and expand HPV vaccine uptake in males.

“However, if V503 merely becomes a replacement for Gardasil without an accompanying boost in uptake, the benefits are likely to be more marginal,” concludes the analyst.

- Comment provided by Robert Wilson, GlobalData's Analyst covering Infectious Disease.

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