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MSD - Public Affairs Campaign

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Company: MSD, São Paulo, Brazil
Company Division/Group: MSD is known as Merck & Co. in the U.S. and Canada
Company Description: For more than a century, MSD, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as Merck in the U.S. and Canada, has been bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we operate in more than 140 countries. In Brazil, MSD has been present for more than 65 years.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Public Affairs

Nomination Title: HPV vaccine expansion to boys in the Brazilian public health system

Tell the story about this nominated campaign since 1 January 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.


The global public health burden attributable to human papilloma viruses (HPV) is considerable: infection by HPV is the most common sexually transmitted agent, afflicting the majority of the world’s population.

A German virologist Harald zur Hausen postulated a role for HPV in cervical cancer. The impact of his findings made him the winner of the Nobel Prize of Medicine in 2008. More than 5% of all cancers worldwide are caused by persistent infection with HPV. Of the more than 100 HPV types known, about 40 infect the genital tract and 15 can cause cervical cancer, the third most frequent type of cancer which affects some 500,000 women per year in the world. In addition, HPV is found in vulvar, penile, oral and other cancers and diseases.


In 2006, MSD launched the first HPV vaccine (the only quadrivalent to date). Ever since, the company has worked relentlessly to raise public awareness of HPV and the benefits of early prevention through immunization. It has also supplied the medical community and governments worldwide with the most rigorous scientific data on the vaccine and its positive effect on reducing the burden of HPV-related diseases.

In Brazil, a technology transfer agreement between MSD and public laboratory Instituto Butantan allowed the National Immunization Program (NIP) to make the HPV quadrivalent vaccine available for free in 2014 for girls aged 11-13, initially. This initiative aimed at reducing the 15,000 cases and 5,000 deaths by cervical cancer alone, reported per year in Brazil.

Low HPV vaccination coverage among girls jeopardized a change in this scenario and, therefore, in late 2015 discussions around the need to implement new strategies arose within the government, including a gender-neutral vaccination program.

The objective of our project was to create awareness around the fact that men also suffer from HPV-related diseases and cancers and to garner support to make the public HPV vaccination expansion to boys a reality. In October 2016, Brazil announced it would be the 1st country in South America and the 7th in the world to vaccinate boys.

Given this scenario, in 2016, MSD implemented Public Affairs and Public Relations plans that focused on engaging with key influencers, as well as with public opinion, to create awareness on the effects of HPV infections in men and on the benefits of a gender-neutral HPV vaccination, which would further accelerate the reduction of HPV-related diseases and cancers in the general population.

In this implementation, a small team mapped almost 600 key stakeholders and effectively engaged with almost 100 of them. Simultaneously, an extensive and successful media relations program was executed, thus raising awareness of the subject.

As a result, the project garnered public attention and paved the way so that the NIP could independently decide in October 2016 that Brazil would expand the HPV vaccine to boys, being the 1st country in South America and the 7th in the world to do so. 3.6 million boys aged 12-13, and 99,500 aged 9-26 living with HIV/AIDS, will be benefited in 2017, thus having a huge impact in the reduction of HPV-related diseases and saving thousands of lives.

The age range will gradually be spread until 2020, when 9 to 13 year old boys will be included. Until 2020, a total of 7.5 million boys age 9–13 years old will have access to public HPV vaccination in Brazil. Added up with the 16.5 million girls vaccinated since 2014.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of this nominated PR program since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

-PR plan focused on engaging with key influencers and public opinion:
-The Brazilian medical community received the most rigorous and updated scientific data on the subject.
-Almost 600 key stakeholders mapped, more than 120 of them were engaged.
-Sponsorship of SBIm’s social media campaign Wave Against Cancer that also talked about boys.
-MSD sponsored a seminar by Folha de São Paulo newspaper: “Adolescence: how to talk about HPV?” with relevant exposure in social media
-MSD organized a webcast to journalists directly from EUROGIN showing new research on efficacy and HPV IN MEN.
-MSD organized a seminar with worldwide renown scientist Anna Giuliano on the subject. Around 20 Latin American journalists were present, including 4 Brazilians.
-Media results: 254 week days in 2016. 241 articles generated about HPV in men. 246 million potential media impressions.