Merck and QIAGEN N.V partner to increase access to HPV vaccine and DNA testing

Merck and QIAGEN N.V announced their intent to collaborate on “a new program to increase access to HPV vaccination and HPV DNA testing in some of the most resource-poor areas of the world.” The companies said the initiative is the first time a vaccine manufacturer and a molecular diagnostics company are collaborating to address the burden of cervical cancer with a comprehensive approach. The commitments of Merck and QIAGEN were highlighted at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, and represent a combined value of approximately US$600 million based on current U.S. prices.

The collaboration “will integrate two breakthrough and complementary advances in healthcare” – Merck’s cervical cancer vaccine, GARDASIL and QIAGEN’s digene HC2 HPV DNA Test (called the digene HPV Test) and a new HPV DNA test that is currently in development for use specifically in the developing world. Merck said it intends to provide, for free, up to five (5) million doses of GARDASIL and QIAGEN intends to add to its existing one million test donation program by providing HPV DNA tests to screen an additional 500,000 women. Merck and QIAGEN said they plan to seek other public and private partners “to design and implement national public sector cervical cancer programs, provide treatment as needed, and support improvements in laboratory and vaccine delivery infrastructure, training of healthcare workers, education and advocacy.” The two companies also plan to work with cervical cancer experts to support the development and implementation of sustainable best practice models for cervical cancer reduction in low-income, high disease burden countries.

Margaret G. McGlynn, president, Merck Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, commented, “Nearly every minute of every day a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer, and many of these women live in developing countries where the burden of the disease is disproportionately high and healthcare infrastructure is limited. We see this collaboration between the two companies as innovative and fundamental to reaching our shared goal of reducing the global burden of cervical cancer.”

Merck and QIAGEN said they plan to reach out to select GAVI-eligible countries to explore the feasibility of implementing cervical cancer reduction programs. These programs are “expected to be national in scope – all girls within a defined age range in the selected countries would be offered vaccination, and the program would work towards implementation of screening – and treatment as needed – for all women of a defined age group.” The participating countries will be announced once program details and implementation strategies have been finalized.

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