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Gardasil is a vaccine manufactured by Merck that prevents certain diseases caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), including cervical cancer and genital warts. Although the vaccine's cost is high, Gardasil achieved blockbuster status by focusing on public (government) and private (managed markets) policymakers as part of key pre- and post-launch activities. This case study reviews how Gardasil's launch followed Merck's new global commercial model, the hurdles the vaccine faced in the public arena, and how Merck used a value argument to overcome pricing and other concerns. The study also highlights Merck's lobbying efforts to make the vaccine mandatory and the consequent backlash that caused the company to ease up on its lobbying efforts related to Gardasil. Other topics addressed in the study are Merck's education efforts directed at different physician groups and parents/young adults, and how the company dealt with controversy.
Using secondary research and an interview with a senior Merck strategy executive, Best Practices, LLC created this case study to assess the winning strategies that led to Gardasil's market success. Executives can use this study to understand Merck's approach to using policy as a springboard for a successful market entry and how it can be used in other launch efforts.
Insights were drawn from secondary research and an extensive interview with one of Merck's senior strategy executives.