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S/O HPV-related cancers up despite vaccines
by Anonymous
January 10, 2013 at 6:03 PM

3. HPV-related cancers up despite vaccines

By Alison Bryant

Cancers caused by human papillomavirus rose in the past decade, a fact that may irkHPV vaccine makers Merck ($MRK) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

From 2000 to 2009, rates of oral, vulva and anal cancers increased, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute. But if Merck and GSK both market HPV vaccines--Gardasil and Cervarix, respectively--then why the upward trend in cancer? "The investments we have made in HPV research to establish these relationships and to develop effective and safe vaccines against HPV will have the expected payoffs only if vaccination rates for girls and boys improve markedly," NCI Director Harold Varmus said, according to the report. To put it simply, a vaccine can't protect if people don't receive it.

Gardasil and Cervarix both still land in the top 20 selling vaccines for 2012, based on estimates made by EvaluatePharma. Gardasil takes the No. 2 spot on that list, raking in $1.78 billion, while Cervarix falls in at No. 11 with $581 million in sales. Gardasil has had a bit more time on the market, making its debut in 2006. Cervarix followed in 2009.

Though the companies' sales are nothing to scoff at, they can both do better; only a third of girls ages 13 to 17 have been fully vaccinated as of 2010, far below the 80% rate experts say is needed to significantly reduce the prevalence of infections. That leaves a full two-thirds of the available market untapped. The vaccine is a regimen of three shots; a mere 32% of U.S. females ages 13 to 17 received all shots.

Researchers can't pinpoint why the HPV vaccination rate is so low in the U.S. Neither Gardasil nor Cervarix makes it onto the list of vaccines required for school enrollment, which puts less pressure on parents to get their kids vaccinated, and the three-dose regimen means parents need to bring their kids to the doctor multiple times, which can be a hassle.

"Vaccination rates are still quite low in terms of where we need to be to really impact HPV infections," Edgar Simard, an author of the study and senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, told Bloomberg. "If we don't address these disparities now they will continue to manifest."

- read the report
- get more from Bloomberg

Related Articles:
Survey: U.S. females fail to finish Merck and GSK HPV shots
Low HPV vaccination rates spur calls for wider use
Australia backs plan to give HPV vax Gardasil to boys
European officials back HPV shots for all girls
Merck's Gardasil the HPV vax of choice in Scotland

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  • YzmaRocks
    January 10, 2013 at 6:06 PM
    No really surprising. Gardisil only covers 4 of a 100 some odd strains of HPV and it has been banned in some other countries because of the horrible side effects. I don't blame parents for not giving it to their children.
  • Anonymous 1
    by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster
    January 10, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    from one of the references in the article

    Cancers Linked to HPV Rise in U.S. on Low Vaccine Use

    Cancers caused by the human papilloma virus rose in the past decade as use of vaccines byMerck & Co. (MRK) and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) that may prevent the tumors was less than recommended by health officials.

    The rates of oral, vulva and anal cancers increased from 2000 to 2009, according to a study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The incidence of cervical cancer, also tied to HPV, fell in white women while increasing in black women, the report said.

    Merck’s vaccine, which came on the market in 2006, and Glaxo’s vaccine, approved in 2009, protect against strains of the sexually transmitted virus that are linked to cancer of the anus, cervix, vagina, vulva, and throat. The U.S. recommends use of the shots in boys and girls ages 11 and 12. Only a third of girls ages 13 to 17 have been fully vaccinated as of 2010, well below the 80 percent rate epidemiologists say is needed to significantly reduce the prevalence of infections.

    “Vaccination rates are still quite low in terms of where we need to be to really impact HPV infections,” said Edgar Simard, an author on the study and senior epidemiologist at the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society, in a telephone interview. “If we don’t address these disparities now they will continue to manifest.”

    Cancer Decline

    The increase in HPV-related cancers contrasts with a decline in the rate of all new tumors in men, the study found. The rate for all cancers in women was little changed. Cancer deaths continued to drop, falling 1.5 percent a year during the decade. The biggest declines in death rates were in lung, breast, colon and prostate cancers while deaths increased from liver, pancreatic and skin cancers.

    Cancer death rates have been falling since the 1990s because of less tobacco use and more screening that can lead to early detection and treatment, the study said.

    “We are seeing the trend going in the right direction,” said Brenda Edwards, an author on the study and senior adviser at the National Cancer Institute. “These trends show we haven’t eliminated cancer, but we have managed to be able to diagnosis it and treat it.”

    Researchers on the study said they aren’t certain why the HPV vaccination rates remain low, though there are multiple barriers to getting protected. Unlike most vaccines, it isn’t required for school enrollment, putting less pressure on parents to ensure their children get the shot. It also requires three shots, meaning parents will have to take their child to the doctor multiple times.

    The lowest HPV vaccination rates were in southern states, including Alabama and Mississippi, and among people without health insurance.

    HPV-associated cancer accounted for 3.3 percent of all cancers among women and 2 percent in men in 2009, the study found.

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