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Acid Test - Glaxo's Cervarix, and Merck's Gardasil, Compete

GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Europe's pharmaceutical giant, is finalizing its plan of action, to test its experimental// vaccine Cervarix against Merck & Co.'s Gardasil, in a bid to establish the most effective vaccine against cervical cancer.

The study, which will be conducted in the United States, will seek to evaluate the immune responses of women aged 18 to 26 years old, to two strains of the human papillomavirus. This virus is known to be the reason behind 70 percent of cervical cancers.

Glaxo has presented Cervarix to European regulators, while Gardasil received approval in the U.S. and Europe in 2006. Analyst Tim Anderson of Prudential Equity Group said, ``this is a very strategic and high stakes gamble by Glaxo that could have significant implications for both companies.''

Statistics show that cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer among women, with as many as 250,000 women dying every year to the disease. Both the vaccines in question comprise of vaccine boosters called adjuvants. Merck's Gardasil utilizes a conventional aluminum adjuvant, while Glaxo's Cervarix, uses a proprietary adjuvant named as AS04. Glaxo is confident of AS04’s effectiveness and that’s why the trial.

Brian Lortie, Glaxo's vice president of operations for the vaccine, said, ``we as a company think that the adjuvants differentiate the company. These are always risks that you take in clinical trials. We think there are some fundamental differences between these vaccines and that's why we're confident to begin the trial.''

Glaxo has decided to make the results of the trial public, irrespective of the brand that turns out to be the winner.


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