Merck's Gardasil the HPV vax of choice in Scotland

The Scottish government will snub GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Cervarix in favor of Merck's ($MRK) Gardasil when it comes to vaccinating girls against HPV.

Cervarix, which the Scottish government previously used, protects against two strains of HPV compared with Gardasil, which protects against four strains of the virus as well as genital warts. Girls receive the three-dose regimen in their second year of secondary school, usually at age 13, according to BBC.

"This program plays a critical part in helping to protect thousands of Scottish women from a disease that can attack them in the prime of their lives," Sir Harry Burns, Scotland's chief medical officer, told BBC. "It was established first and foremost to protect against cervical cancer, however the fact that the new vaccine also provides protection against genital warts is an added benefit."

The program, which began in 2008, has been a huge success in Scotland, Burns said. The United Kingdom as a whole will now use Gardasil after a procurement exercise by the Department of Health on behalf of the four U.K. health departments, BBC reports.

Worldwide sales of Gardasil trumped those of Cervarix in 2011. Gardasil sales totaled nearly $1.5 billion in 2011, while sales of Cervarix were about $811 million, according to data from EvaluatePharma. Gardasil is at No. 2 for top-selling vaccines in the first half of 2012--behind Pfizer's ($PFE) Prevnar 13--and EvaluatePharma's analysts projected worldwide sales of Merck's HPV vaccine to hit $1.65 billion for the full year.

- get more from BBC

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