Gardasil captured more territory for Merck and Sanofi-Aventis yesterday when French health officials recommended that vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. The French authority recommended that girls of 14 be vaccinated against four strains of the virus, which Gardasil does; its rival Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, protects against only two. Cervarix targets two HPV strains that cause cancer; Gardasil aims at two cancer strains and two that cause genital warts.
It's just one more victory for Gardasil, which made it to market first, and gained all the attendant early-bird advantages. Though Cervarix is approved in a multitude of countries, it's not for sale in the U.S.; the FDA recently asked GSK for more info about the product. But GSK has been so confident in its product that it launched a head-to-head study pitting Cervarix against Gardasil. Results are expected later this year.