Rotarix, a rotavirus vaccine from the UK's GlaxoSmithKline that competes with Merck's RotaTeq, was suspended for use by the FDA over seven weeks ago, having been found to contain DNA from the porcine (pig) virus known as PCV1. At that time, Merck's vaccine was recommended in its place.
Dr. Gerberding is now the head of the Merck vaccine division where Dr. Paul Offit's RotaTeq vaccine is under scrutiny for containing snips of both PCV1 and PCV2 (known to cause wasting disease in pigs) virus DNA fragments. This, despite an FDA report issued on March 23 when Rotarix was suspended for use that, "Preliminary testing by both the academic researchers and FDA scientists of another licensed vaccine against rotavirus infection, RotaTeq, has not detected components of PCV1."
We ran posts about Dr. Gerberding's move from the Federal Government to Merck last December. Here is the announcement from Reuters.
WASHINGTON, Dec 21 2009 (Reuters) - Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was named president of Merck & Co Inc's (MRK.N) vaccine division, the company said on Monday.
Gerberding, who led the CDC from 2002 to 2009 and stepped down when President Barack Obama took office, will head up the company's $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and pneumonia. [Editor's note: Gerberding will begin her new job on January 25th, 2010. One year is the minimum time allowable for former Federal officials to take such a job with companies they used to regulate]
She had led CDC from one crisis to another, including the investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, the H5N1 avian influenza, the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and various outbreaks of food poisoning.
"As a preeminent authority in public health, infectious diseases and vaccines, Dr. Gerberding is the ideal choice to lead Merck's engagement with organizations around the world that share our commitment to the use of vaccines to prevent disease and save lives," Merck Chief Executive Officer Richard Clark said in a statement.
She may be charged with reigniting flagging sales of Merck's Gardasil vaccine to prevent cervical cancer by protecting against human papillomavirus or HPV. After an encouraging launch Gardasil sales have been falling and were down 22 percent in the third quarter at $311 million.