Merck offers $500M of Gardasil to poor countries

Last week, Merck announced it was parterning up to launch a non-profit vaccine developer in India. This week it's touting plans to donate $500 million worth of its HPV vaccine Gardasil to help protect women in developing countries from cervical cancer. And Qiagen is donating up to $70 million worth of its tests to help identify women with the disease so they can be treated for it.

"Nearly every minute of every day a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer, and many of these women live in developing countries where the burden of the disease is disproportionately high and health-care infrastructure is limited," said Margaret G. McGlynn, head of Merck's vaccine division.

Merck is donating up to five million vaccinations in the 23 poorest countries which have approved the jab. The pharma giant made its commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, its fifth consecutive offering in five years. Cervical cancer most often occurs in developing countries, but Gardasil's cost makes it a rare commodity. About half a million women contract cervical cancer every year.

- read the press release
- check out the story from Bloomberg