CDC reconsiders HPV vaccine use in boys

Fierce Pharma

October 29, 2010 — 9:54am ET | By Tracy Staton

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisors are considering whether to recommend that boys get the human papillomavirus vaccine as well as girls. It’s the second time CDC officials have weighed the vaccine’s value for boys, and the experts just can’t decide whether preventing genital warts–the approved use for males–is worth the expense.

The chief use of Gardasil, Merck’s version of the HPV shot, and Cervarix, GlaxoSmithKline’s product, is to prevent cervical cancer. But Gardasil protects not only against cancer-causing strains of HPV, but strains that cause genital warts. For that reason, Merck recently won approval to market the shot to boys.

There’s also the suggestion of a “herd immunity” effect; if enough people of both sexes are vaccinated, even unvaccinated people would have a measure of protection. And as some panel members pointed out, HPV can cause other kinds of cancers, including anal cancer and some head and throat cancers–cancers which aren’t limited to women.

Merck has been counting on expanded use of Gardasil to revive less-than-impressive sales of the shot. A new CDC recommendation would help. But complicating matters is the fact that HPV is transmitted sexually–which brings politics into the agency’s decision.

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Well, no surprise here….vaccinating the boys will put the numbers of adverse reactions and deaths over the top.  Besides, Merck can barely get the vaccine sold to adolescent girls right now. Colleges are applying to state run programs and are offering the vaccine for $10.00 shot.  So if the public won’t buy the vaccine – I guess the taxpayers will.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.