Pharma Focus Asia

FDA Approves Merck’s GARDASIL 9 for the Prevention of Certain HPV-Related Head and Neck Cancers

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an expanded indication for GARDASIL 9 for the prevention of oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers caused by HPV Types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. The oropharyngeal and head and neck cancer indication is approved under accelerated approval based on effectiveness in preventing HPV-related anogenital disease. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial. The trial is currently underway.

“At Merck, working to help prevent certain HPV-related cancers has been a priority for more than two decades,” said Dr. Alain Luxembourg, director, clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories. “Today’s approval for the prevention of HPV-related oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers represents an important step in Merck’s mission to help reduce the number of men and women affected by certain HPV-related cancers.”

GARDASIL 9 is a vaccine indicated in females 9 through 45 years of age for the prevention of cervical, vulvar, vaginal, anal, oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) Types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58; cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal precancerous or dysplastic lesions caused by HPV Types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58; and genital warts caused by HPV Types 6 and 11.

GARDASIL 9 is indicated in males 9 through 45 years of age for the prevention of anal, oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers caused by HPV Types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58; anal precancerous or dysplastic lesions caused by HPV Types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58; and genital warts caused by HPV Types 6 and 11.

GARDASIL®9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant) is contraindicated in individuals with hypersensitivity, including severe allergic reactions to yeast, or after a previous dose of GARDASIL 9 or GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant].

Both men and women can be at risk for HPV-attributable oropharyngeal cancer; however, this cancer affects men five times more than women.1 For most people, HPV clears on its own. But, for those who don't clear the virus, it can cause certain cancers. Oropharyngeal cancer can arise as a result of HPV infection in the oropharynx, which includes the soft palate, side and back wall of the throat, tonsils, and back one-third of the tongue. According to a recent model published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV-attributable oropharyngeal cancer has surpassed cervical cancer as the most prevalent type of HPV-related cancer in the U.S.1

1 The CDC analyzed data from the U.S. Cancer Statistics (USCS) to assess the incidence of HPV-associated cancers and to estimate the annual number of cancers caused by HPV, overall and by state, during 2012 to 2016.

The estimated number of HPV-attributable cancers was calculated by multiplying the average number of HPV-associated cancers by the percentage of HPV-attributable cancers diagnosed from 1993 to 2005, before HPV vaccination was available in the U.S.

The detection of HPV DNA in an HPV study is not enough to determine that HPV caused the cancer.

Not all cervical and oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV.

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