A new study in JAMA Pediatrics finds that sex and money each play a role in U.S. parents' reluctance to vaccinate their children against the human papillomavirus. But a lack of easy-to-understand information about the shots--and often, the lack of a doctor's clear recommendation for them--are also helping to depress vaccination rates.
A competitor is threatening to chip away at sales of Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil. Fortunately for Merck, it is the company developing the rival.
The layoffs and cuts outlined by Merck earlier this month showed the faith it has in the vaccine unit to drive growth over the coming years. And this week brought fresh data to back its decision, with third-quarter results showing strong demand for vaccines propping up other struggling areas of the firm.
On the Big Pharma scorecard, Merck remains on a downward slide. Yes, third-quarter earnings beat estimates, but expectations were low, and it was cost-cutting that delivered the day. And though the Singulair drag on Merck's top line is easing up a bit--pulling overall sales back by 4%, rather than 9% in the first quarter--the Januvia malaise continues.
Sales of Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil are up 27% in the first half of this year. But Japan's decision to suspend promotion of the vaccine after it was linked to adverse events has raised some questions about its prospects.
The public health push to vaccinate both boys and girls against human papillomavirus has been hindered by a lack of studies showing that the jabs prevent forms of cancer other than cervical. Now data on throat cancer are emerging a week after an anal disease study.
In 2007, Merck spent $100 million promoting its human papillomavirus vaccine, Gardasil. The advertising blitz helped sales top $1 billion, but earnings fell away quickly over the next few years. Many people are critical of the vaccine, but lots more simply do not know it exists.
GlaxoSmithKline and Merck are slashing the prices of their HPV vaccinations in a deal with the GAVI Alliance, which delivers immunizations to the developing world.
Social issues have held back uptake of GlaxoSmithKline and Merck human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in the U.S., but globally the problem is more fundamental--the shots cost too much. It is these low-income countries--where 85% of cervical cancer cases occur--that need the vaccines most though.
Pfizer catapulted itself into the vaccine big leagues in 2009 by merging with Wyeth, and continued demand for Prevnar 13 has seen it consolidate its position. Analysts predict its sales could dwarf other vaccines--hitting $6.7 billion in 2018--but recent quarters suggest it will be a bumpy ride.