October 21, 2009
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. vaccine advisers declined to press for the use of Merck & Co’s Gardasil in boys and men, opting instead on Wednesday to simply advise doctors they are free to use it.
Despite some impassioned pleas from patients and doctors alike, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted almost unanimously for “permissive” use of the vaccine for boys. It protects against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes a variety of cancers and genital warts.
But the committee did recommend including Gardasil for eligible boys aged 9 to 18 in the Vaccines For Children program, a government-funded system that provides vaccines to children eligible for the state-federal Medicaid health insurance plan and other uninsured children.
Merck’s shares were down 1.7 percent at $33.16 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends Gardasil for girls 11 and 12 years old and women 13 to 26 who have not been vaccinated.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil for preventing genital warts in boys and men ages 9 through 26.
The main reason the vaccine was approved was to prevent cervical cancer, which kills 4,000 women a year in the United States alone. But various strains of HPV also cause disfiguring genital warts, anal and penile cancers and head and neck cancers.
“We know that the later the cancer is discovered, the lower the chance of survival is,” David Hastings of the Oral Cancer Foundation told the committee, asking for a recommendation to add the vaccine to the standard schedule for boys.
Comment from Leslie
No surprise here….I knew that this would happen and commented on it in another blog the other night. Everything from sexist to save Merck’s ass reasons on this one. Why sexist – boys are not going to line up and get a shot for an STD – hello – that is not what they do. Yes, even though they are the carriers – it is a woman’s issue – and not their responsibility.
As far as this saving Merck’s ass – well, their stocks fell but that will be minor in comparision to the numbers of boys who would have suffered adverse reactions to Gardasil – more than the girls – because testosterone absorbs heavy metals. That is why infant boys have a tendency to get Autism more than girls.