Since the approval of Gardasil (aka Silgard), Merck has been actively marketing its HPV vaccines to low-income countries. GlaxoSmithKline is doing the same with their new HPV vaccine, Cervarix. These marketing campaigns are in direct opposition to guidance published by the World Health Organization on 10 April 2009.
The mission of the World Health Organization is to “publish and disseminate scientific rigorous public health information of international significance that enables policy makers, researchers, and practitioners to be more effective; it aims to improve health, particularly among disadvantaged populations.”
Human papillomavirus vaccines WHO position paper provides clear guidelines on the introduction of HPV vaccines, including some strong statements in regard to low and middle income countries.
Gardasil, manufactured by Merck, had been on the market for several years prior to the issuance of these guidelines. Nevertheless, they have had over a year to adjust their marketing strategies to closer fit WHO recommendations. They have not appeared to do so.
Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, was approved for use in the United States after WHO’s position paper was published. If they had public health interests in mind, one would think their marketing campaigns would closer resemble WHO’s guidelines. Apparently, that is not the case.