Beginning in September 2012, the UK’s National Health System will replace Ceverex produced by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) with Gardasil from Merck (NYSE: MRK) for its HPV vaccine program, the health system announced Thursday.

The UK began vaccinating girls 12-13 years old for the Human Papillomavirus in 2008. The virus can cause cervical cancer and the treatment has been introduced in several countries for this purpose. There is also a market for boys receiving the vaccine since it is spread through sexual contact.

Gardasil prevents multiple strains of HPV as well as genital warts, caused by some strains of HPV.

About 1.5 million girls have been vaccinated for HPV since 2008.
Gardasil is sold in Europe by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, a joint venture between Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck and French drugmaker Sanofi.

Gardasil outsells Cervarix globally, according to Thomson Reuters Pharma data.

Non-US markets hold a lot of potential for expanding the vaccine’s sales, especially Japan, according to the company’s third quarter earnings transcript. The company also secured permission in the US to add boys in the same age group to the vaccine pool, a move that could be repeated by regulators in other countries.

GSK operates its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C. 

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