In India alone, about than 122,844 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, accounting for one out of four of all cases diagnosed globally.
As per the latest statement issed by MSD India on April, 21, the human papillomavirus ("HPV") types HPV 16 and HPV 18 cause approximately 70 percent of cervical cancers worldwide whereas in India it is 82.7 percent.
As per MSD, its 'GARDASIL is the first vaccine for the prevention of cervical and other cancers caused by HPV type 6, 11, 16 and 18 and is a major contribution to public health. Since its first approval in 2006, GARDASIL has been approved by regulatory authorities for the prevention of diseases caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 in more than 135 countries worldwide. More than 178 million doses of GARDASIL have been distributed worldwide since 2006.
Pointing towards the global approvals, MSD goes on to mention, Leading international health organizations throughout the world including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Canada, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), the Australia Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), among others, recommend the use of Gardasil. Leading medical associations in India like IAP (Indian Academy of Pediatrics) and FOGSI (Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecological Societies of India) recommend prevention of Cervical Cancer through vaccination.
It is important to mention here that serious charges have been levelled against 'Gardasil' by the civil society activists in India. They allege that the vacccine trials have lead to death of volunteers in certain tribal regions in India. MSD has denied such charges. There has been an ongoing case too on the issue in the country's highest judicial authority, Supreme Court where both sides are presenting their arguements.
MSD seems to have touched the subject indirectly in its statement. "Nothing is more important to MSD than the safety of our medicines and vaccines. We are confident in the safety profile of GARDASIL which is the result of over 10 years of research and development. Before it was licensed, its safety and efficacy was established in clinical trials involving more than 25,000 individuals. Safety has continued to be evaluated in large postlicensure surveillance studies in approximately one million people. MSD has an extensive and ongoing safety-monitoring program. In addition, the US CDC and other leading health organizations closely monitor the safety of GARDASIL, as they do with other vaccines. MSD and leading health organizations throughout the world communicate about the safety of vaccines, including GARDASIL, on a regular basis," it said.