MSD Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday said it has launched first gender-neutral HPV vaccine, GARDASIL 9, in the country. The 9-valent Human Papillomavirus (Types 6, 11, 16,18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 ) Vaccine will help reduce the diseases burden and cancers caused by the HPV types contained in the vaccine, among girls and women (aged 9-26 years) and boys (9-15 years).

"Launching GARDASIL 9 is a crucial step towards advancing the mission of building a healthy young India by reducing the disease burden of HPV-related cancers and disease in the country," MSD India Region Managing Director Rehan A Khan said in a statement.

With HPV affecting both genders, the vaccine demonstrates the company"s commitment towards bringing a gender-neutral HPV vaccine to India that addresses certain HPV-related diseases, among Indian girls, women and boys, and continues to promote preventive healthcare in India, he added.

"We also believe that raising awareness among parents of young boys and girls is critical in addressing the HPV disease burden in India, as we embark on a journey towards reaching the highest attainable standard of health and wellbeing in a progressive, healthy and young India," Khan noted.

HPV vaccinations can play a crucial role in reducing the alarming incidence of HPV-related cancer burden in India (both males and females) that is reported at about 1.7 lakh cases annually.

Current estimates indicate that every year, 96,922 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 60,078 lose their battle to the disease.

Cervical cancer ranks as the second-most frequent cancer among women in India between 15 and 44 years of age.

MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck Sharp & Dohme (known as Merck & Co, Inc. in the US and Canada).