Cancer in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus, is called cervical cancer. Its two primary types are squamous cells cancer and adenocarcinoma. 80% to 90%, i.e., a majority of cervical cancer cases fall under the former category. The latter is less common, constituting 10% to 20% of cases; however, the incidence of adenocarcinoma is rising predominantly in younger girls. Cervical cancer is a common type of cancer occurring in women worldwide. A major cause is infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) which is found in 99% of cervical cancer cases. HPV is sexually transmitted. Around 70% of cervical cancer cases could be attributed to infection caused by two major strains of virus, HPV-16 and HPV-18, which are also termed as high risk HPV types.
Cervical cancer can be prevented via widespread immunization with the HPV vaccine, which prevents infection from high-risk HPV strains and also offers protection against the low-risk ones which cause genital warts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that the HPV vaccine be administered to girls and boys falling in the age group of 11 to 12 years old. Vaccination at an early stage of life, during teenage, is highly effective. In October 2016, the CDC updated the schedule of the HPV vaccination. It recommends that all teens and adolescents falling between the ages of 9 and 14 should receive two doses of HPV vaccination within a gap of six months.
The rising rate of cervical cancer among women is of particular concern as it is a significantly common type of cancer and a leading cause of death. Its increasing prevalence worldwide is a major driver for the cervical cancer vaccine market. The global surge in the number of cervical cancer patients, especially in developing countries, has motivated key players to develop new vaccines at a low cost. Most vaccines for cervical cancer are in their late stage of clinical development. The rising incidence of cervical cancer has provoked governments and non-profit organizations to take the initiative to create awareness regarding control & prevention of cervical cancer and HPV vaccinations. However, the high cost of the vaccine and the lack of awareness about HPV vaccination in developing countries are major restraining factors for the cervical cancer vaccine market.
The market can be segmented by vaccine type into the bivalent, quadrivalent, and 9-valent varieties. Currently, Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix are the only three vaccines approved by the U.S. FDA and commercially available in market. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 are manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc. and Cervarix by GlaxoSmithKline plc. Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine which targets four different strains of HPV: HPV-6, HPV-11, HPV-16, and HPV-18.Cervarix is a bivalent vaccine targeting only two high-risk strains of HPV: HPV-16 and HPV-18.
Geographically, the global cervical cancer vaccine market is distributed over North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America is projected to hold a significant share in the market due to the rising prevalence of cervical cancer and awareness campaigns regarding HPV vaccination by the government and NGOs in the region. Alliances between the public and private sectors for the development of low-cost vaccines, favorable reimbursement policies, and high per capital income levels are also estimated to propel the market in North America. The high incidence of cervical cancer in developing countries and initiatives taken by WHO to develop affordable vaccines for prevention of cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries are anticipated to drive the market in Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Africa.
Major players operating in the cervical cancer vaccine market include Merck & Co., Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline plc. Another prominent emerging player is ISA Pharmaceuticals B.V., whose immunotherapeutic vaccine is in its phase II trial of clinical development.