MSD Pharmaceuticals (India), the local affiliate of Merck & Co, Inc, US, announced the launch of GARDASIL, India’s first vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer caused by the HPV types contained in the vaccine. 

The company claims that GARDASIL is the only vaccine that helps protect against four types (Types 6, 11, 16, 18) of HPV.  The vaccine helps prevent diseases such as cervical cancer; abnormal and precancerous cervical lesions, vaginal lesions, vulvar lesions; and genital warts, caused by these types of HPV. GARDASIL, which is recommended to be given to females aged between 9 and 26 years, is also the only USFDA-approved vaccine to help prevent against cervical cancer and other diseases caused by HPV types contained in the vaccine.

Cervical cancer, or cancer of the uterine cervix, is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. The disease is caused by certain high-risk HPV types that can cause the cells in the lining of the cervix to change from normal to precancerous lesions. If these precancerous lesions are not diagnosed early and treated, they may turn cancerous after a few years.

According to the company, cervical cancer takes the lives of 8 women in India every hour. It is the commonest cause of cancer deaths among Indian women, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. Every year, almost 74,000 women die due to cervical cancer in India, which is more than one fourth of the world deaths due to cervical cancer.

Announcing the launch, Dr Naveen A Rao, managing director, MSD India, said, “With the launch of GARDASIL, we have initiated the war against cervical cancer, the number one cause of mortality amongst Indian women due to cancer. MSD India will work with partners and communities to enhance awareness for the disease and access for the vaccine.”