good awareness indicator for Merck’s Gardisil HPV vaccine

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Savvy marketers as pharmaceutical firms are, I’d expect Merck to use a recent favorable finding of its Gardisil HPV vaccine—certainly if found widely repeatable—to its maximum marketing advantage: Namely, the vaccine’s net tendency to highlight the risk of sexual behavior in vaccinated girls.

This runs counter to the expectations of many who opposed use of the vaccine by young girls for fear that it would promote promiscuity. Only in time will the behavior of girls relative to these 1st-generation HPV-vaccination testimonials be fully observable. But the appeal of any such burgeoning consensus is undeniable.

Gardasil, Merck’s cervical cancer vaccine (also known as Quadrivalent HPV Vaccine), is indicated to help prevent cervical cancer, precancerous and low-grade cervical lesions, vulvar and vaginal precancers and genital warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16 and 18. It was licensed for use by the Food and Drug Administration in June of 2006 and recommended for routine use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices in March of 2007.

Screenshot: In the cited British survey by the University of Manchester, of surveyed females who received the vaccine, 79% said the vaccine reminded them of the risks of sex, while 14% said they might take more sexual risks because of it. Parent involvement was found to greatly determine the vaccination program’s success.

“Interestingly, media suggestions that the vaccine could make girls more likely to start having sex at a younger age hadn’t affected them. In fact, the vaccine actually made them more aware of the risks of sex.” —Dr Loretta Brabin, study author, University of Manchester’s School of Cancer and Imaging Sciences

By CDC guidelines Gardisil “can be administered to females even if they have or previously had an abnormal or unclear Pap test, a positive HPV test or genital warts. Pap testing and screening for HPV DNA or HPV antibody are not needed before vaccination at any age.” This theoretically makes the market for Gardisil to be roughly half of any target population.

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