At a glance: Cervical cancer rivals step up comms efforts

Is this in the wake of the Gardasil launch?
Yes, last week Sanofi Pasteur MSD launched Gardasil, the first vaccine that aims to prevent cervical cancer. It has stolen a march on its main rival, GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, which is not due to launch until next year.

Who handles comms?
Red Door Communications handles UK work for Gardasil and does project work in Europe. The account is led by director Catherine Devaney.

And for Cervarix?
Cervarix's UK comms is split between Virgo Health PR and Clew Communications. Virgo handles health professional media relations. The account is led by deputy MD Caroline Fielding. Clew is in charge of national and consumer media relations. Directors Chris Mihill and Mary Hicks oversee the account.

What are the main messages?
Gardasil protects against four types of human papillomavirus, which cause cervical cancer. Trials reveal the brand is 100 per cent effective against two strains that cause 75 per cent of cervical cancer. It also helps prevent vulva and vagina cancer, and genital warts.

So this is a cure?
No. The jabs do not provide full protection against cervical cancer, which means vaccinated women will still need regular smear tests.

Was there much media coverage?
Nationals including the Financial Times, The Independent and The Scotsman covered the Gardasil launch. The Times headline ‘Women get vaccine to fight cervical cancer virus' was typical. The Daily Mail's headline, however, was ‘Cancer jabs for girls of nine "in weeks"', which gives a clear indication of one of the main issues to be addressed by PROs.

And that is?
Comms for the brand is particularly sensitive, given that females aged nine to 26 years old are to be vaccinated. Critics suggest that giving youngsters Gardasil - which protects against the sexually transmitted HPV - could encourage underage sex.

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