INDIA – MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. has announced the launch of Gardasil 9, India’s first gender-neutral human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that will help reduce disease burden and cancers caused by the HPV types among Indian girls, boys and women.

Launching 9-valent HPV vaccine (GARDASIL 9) is a crucial step towards building a healthy young generation by reducing the disease burden of HPV-related cancers and diseases. GARDASIL 9 is a nano valent vaccine given intramuscularly in a three-dose regimen spread over 6 months.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women between the ages of 15 and 44 in India. As such, GARDASIL 9 is anticipated to play a crucial role in the global elimination of cervical cancer as a public health burden.

Highlighting the efficacy of the vaccine, Dr. Hema Divakar, former President of Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India stated, “Nine HPV serotypes contribute to the majority of HPV Global Disease Burden, and some are more prominent in India.”

India constitutes nearly 20% of the world’s total population and is expected to have one of the world’s youngest populations until 2030.

The country has the world’s largest population of 10- to 24-year-olds, who are nearly 229 million according to the United Nations Population Division’s ‘World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision’ Population Database.

The young cohort attracts significant attention on health and disease prevention. HPV vaccinations have the potential to play a critical role in reducing the alarming incidence of HPV-related cancer burden in Indian males and females, which has an annual incidence of approximately 170,000 cases, with over 60,000 succumbing to the disease in India.

The 9-valent HPV vaccine Gardasil 9, first approved in 2014, is the only vaccine available in the United States that has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers and precancerous lesions in males and females aged 9-45 years. It has been approved in 80 countries globally.

Vaccination is not a replacement for regular cervical screening. Because no vaccine is 100% effective, and Gardasil will not protect against all HPV types or existing HPV infections, routine cervical screening remains critical and should adhere to local recommendations.

HPV vaccination works wonderfully protecting against new infections – but vaccination doesn’t treat infections so older individuals outside the ages targeted for HPV vaccination will continue to be at risk of these cancers.

The vaccine is most effective when given before the onset of sexual activity. Vaccination against particular HPV types is most effective in preventing infections from these viruses in persons who have not previously been infected with these types.

The outlook is promising as experts have expressed belief that HPV vaccination will prevent cancer; thus, it is important to continue to improve the current HPV vaccination rates.

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