Merck & Co., Inc. and QIAGEN N.V. today 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. This 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. Representing a combined value of approximately $600 million based on current U.S. prices, the commitments of Merck and QIAGEN were highlighted today among a select group of corporate initiatives announced at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.
"My dream of helping to reduce the burden of cervical cancer for women is increasingly within reach. I commend Merck and QIAGEN for their contribution to advancing women's health," said Graça Machel, founder and president of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), Mozambique, and a passionate advocate for women's health. "This program is a fine example of how vaccination and screening can be used together in a comprehensive fashion. I hope that this will pave the way for new partnerships, involving the public and private sectors, donor organizations and global health leaders to address cervical cancer in developing countries."
This collaboration will integrate two breakthrough and complementary advances in healthcare, Merck's cervical cancer vaccine, GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) Vaccine Recombinant], and QIAGEN's HPV tests, the 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 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 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.
“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," said Margaret G. McGlynn, president, Merck Vaccines and Infectious Diseases. "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."
“With broadened access to both vaccines and testing through this initiative, we hope to ensure that girls and women - regardless of where they live – will benefit from these advances in healthcare," said Peer Schatz, CEO of QIAGEN. "Our complementary tools can demonstrate the unique impact that collaborations between pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies can have on global public health.”