The government experts sitting on the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices won't be going to bat for Merck when it comes to the use of Gardasil for young men and boys. In a near unanimous vote, the group agreed to leave it to doctors to decide whether they will recommend the vaccine, which has long stirred controversy. Merck got an approval to market Gardasil to prevent genital warts in young males just days ago, giving it a chance to broaden its pitch for the vaccine just as GlaxoSmithKline jumps into the HPV market with the newly approved Cervarix.
Merck is likely to face a tough audience when it comes to the use of Gardasil for boys and men. While some experts conclude that immunizing males will reduce the number of times they infect females with the virus, a new study finds that it's just not a very cost-effective approach to managing disease.
"This study found that while vaccine coverage and efficacy are high in girls, including boys in an HPV vaccination program generally exceeds what the U.S. typically considers good value for money," said lead researcher Jane Kim. Vaccinating 12-year-old girls, though, did register as good value.