In the battle of the HPV vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline has gained new ammo. According to a new study published in The Lancet, Glaxo's Cervarix is not only effective against the two most common types of human papillomavirus, but also protects against the three next-most prevalent strains that cause cervical cancer. The drugmaker said that the shot thus could be 11 percent to 16 percent more effective against the cancer than previously thought.
Obviously, Glaxo is trumpeting the news: "For the first time the results show that this vaccine was effective against cervical pre-cancers associated with the five most common cancer-causing virus types," global R&D chief Thomas Breuer said in a statement. "This is really good news for primary prevention of cervical cancer as it indicates the vaccine could offer women additional protection...beyond what had at first been anticipated."
One of Merck's selling points for its Gardasil vaccine has been its protection against more than two strains of HPV, including strains that cause genital warts. But Glaxo could turn this new data to its advantage, because additional cancer protection trumps genital warts protection, yes? Of course it will have to wait for any kind of advantage in the U.S.; the drugmaker is still waiting for FDA approval. The new data has been submitted to FDA, but word isn't expected until the fall.