(Adds details on Gardasil sales; Cervarix)
WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (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.
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.
Reporting by Maggie Fox and Bill Berkrot; editing by Gunna Dickson