Merck Gives $500 Million of Vaccine to Poorer Nations
September 24, 2009
Merck & Co. announced Wednesday it will donate more than $500 million of its human papillomavirus Gardasil vaccine to the Clinton Global Initiative -- enough to provide 1.7 million women the three-shot vaccination. Doses of the vaccine, which protects against HPV strains linked to 70 percent of cervical cancers, will be distributed in 23 of the world's poorest countries where Gardasil is approved for use, the company said.
"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 disease is disproportionately high and health care infrastructure is limited," said Margaret G. McGlynn, Merck's vaccine division chief.
According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of the 510,000 cases of cervical cancer each year are in developing countries.
In conjunction with Merck, Netherlands-based Qiagen NV will donate $20 million-$70 million in HPV screening tests. The combined donation is valued at $600 million, said Merck spokesperson Amy Rose.
Merck has made announcements about improving access to its vaccines at the previous five Clinton Global Initiative meetings, said Rose. Since it focuses on women's issues, this year's meeting was perfect for announcing the Gardasil program, said Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz. Merck is looking for additional partners to help with distribution and administration of the vaccine.
09.23.2009; Shannon Pettypiece
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