Gardasil is Merck’s (MRK) leading vaccine for the prevention of certain strains of HPV (human papillomavirus), which are sexually transmitted. Total sales from Gardasil during 3Q16 reached $860 million, a rise of ~38% over the $625 million in 3Q15.
Importance of Gardasil
Gardasil is used in the prevention of certain HPV strains that are responsible for causing ~70% of cervical cancers as well as most HPV-induced cancers, including anal, vulvar, vaginal and penile cancer cases, and genital warts.
The strong performance and presence of Gardasil 9 in the US represents Merck’s strength in securing managed care access as well as the transition of customers to the 9-Valent vaccine.
Gardasil contributed ~8% of total revenues for Merck in 3Q16, which was ~2% higher than its contribution in 3Q15.
Merck’s vaccines business
Overall, vaccines sales totaled ~$1.9 billion in 3Q16, as compared to ~$1.5 billion in 3Q15. This growth was driven by products including Gardasil, ProQuad-Varivax, Zostavax, Pneumovax, and RotaTeq.
ProQuad-Varivax, specifically, reported a growth of 27% in revenues in 3Q16 at $496 million, as compared to $390 million in 3Q15. Sales of RotaTeq and Zostavax rose more than 6% apiece to $171 million and $190 million, respectively, in 3Q16.
Merck’s Gardasil competes with GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Cervarix. GlaxoSmithKline has also acquired Novartis’s (NVS) vaccine business to strengthen its vaccines portfolio. Pneumovax competes with Pfizer’s (PFE) blockbuster product Prevnar 13.
To divest risk, investors can consider ETFs like the VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH), which has ~5.4% of its total assets in Merck.