As Sales Drop, Fall Brings Big Push for Gardasil Vaccine

Merck Ups Marketing Efforts as Girls Go for Back-to-School Checkups

Advertising Age
August 10, 2009

By Rich Thomaselli

NEW YORK ( — This year’s back-to-school shopping list: Pencils? Check. Notebooks? Check. Cervical-cancer vaccine?

Faced with declining sales for Gardasil, the controversial — and so far only — vaccine for prevention of human papillomavirus, Merck & Co. is planning to boost the drug’s visibility during the key back-to-school shopping period beginning this month.

“As we move into the third quarter, we expect sequential growth as we leverage the back-to-school season,” Ken Frazier, Merck exec VP-president of global human health, told analysts during the company’s most recent earnings conference call. Gardasil’s second-quarter worldwide sales were $268 million, an 18% drop from the second quarter of 2008. U.S. sales declined 28% compared with the second quarter of last year.


Mr. Frazier blamed saturation of the market. The vaccine made its debut three years ago for girls and young women ages 9 to 26. Gardasil is administered in a series of three shots over six months and prevents four types of HPV — two types that cause 70% of cervical cancer and two types that cause 90% of genital-wart cases. But Gardasil is effective only when administered before the onset of sexual activity to prevent genital warts. Mr. Frazier believes the prime target of girls ages 13 to 18 has reached a peak.


Comment from Leslie

TV has been filled with Gardasil commercials.  Media affecting young girls -obviously this is about profits and not about adolescent health.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.