Success Of Cancer Vaccines Could Have Pharm ETFs Feeling Good

August 23rd at 1:00pm by Tom Lydon

With drug makers making a push for cervical cancer vaccination, the industry is quickly growing and certain ETFs can capture this growth.

In a New York Times article, Elisabeth Rosenthal examines how over the past two years, cervical cancer has gone from an obscure disease mostly in poor nations to a great concern in many western countries.

Two vaccines have been approved and released over the past two years. Over this period, tens of millions of girls throughout the United States and Europe have been vaccinated against cervical cancer. In many countries, the vaccines were recommended for universal use among females between the ages of 11 and 26. The vaccines include Gardasil, from Merck, and Cervarix, a GlaxoSmithKline product.

As this market grows at an alarming rate, the vaccines have appealed to not only potential recipients and humanitarians, but politicians as well. The remarkably quick transition of the vaccines in the United States and Europe shows the success of what manufacturers call education and critics call marketing.

As investment in these vaccines increases, award-winning advertising has been utilized to promote these innovations. The impact has been so large, 41 states have passed or have begun considering legislation on cervical cancer. Virginia has made the shots mandatory for girls before entering school, which takes effect in 2009.

As even the critics of the marketing admit to the benefits of the vaccines, many questions remain unanswered about both treatments. Questions pertaining to the length of immunity and potential side effects have nagged the vaccines.

However, 16 million doses have already been distributed domestically by Merck. This left both the FDA and CDC saying that “by chance alone some serious adverse effects and deaths” will occur because of the large population these 16 million doses were administered to.

Even though some questions remain pertaining to the long-term effects and immunity of the vaccines, the market for these treatments is vast and potentially very lucrative. Some ETFs that could weigh in on this action include:

  • HealthShares Cancer (HHK), is up 1.5% year-to-date with top holdings in Vertex Pharmaceuticals, APP Pharmaceuticals, Fresenius, and Onyx Pharmaceuticals.
  • Pharmaceutical HOLDRs (PPH), is down 10.6% year-to-date with top holdings in Abbot Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer.
  • PowerShares Dynamic Pharmaceuticals (PJP), is down .8% year-to-date with top holdings in Genetech, Wyeth, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson.
  • SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals (XPH), is down .5% year-to-date with top holdings in Barr Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories, King Pharmaceuticals, and Merck.
  • iShares Dow Jones US Pharmaceuticals (IHE), is down 3.4% year-to-date with top holdings in Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Abbot Laboratories.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.