Only 34% of girls got Merck's HPV shot, study finds

It's a glass half-empty or half-full question: Only about one-third of young women have received a vaccination for the human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer, a new study shows. And that's despite an aggressive advertising push by Merck (NYSE: MRK), which markets the first HPV shot on the U.S. market, Gardasil. Not to mention recommendations from public health officials.

The Washington University study tracked vaccinations in more than 1,700 girls ages 13 to 17. Only 34 percent received an HPV shot. Ironically, girls in poorer areas were more likely to have been vaccinated because of public funding for the shots. And there was no racial divide; African-American and Hispanic girls were as likely as white girls to get the shot, Portfolio reports.

So, the vaccination rate is low. But on the bright side, that number has grown by 9 percentage points from earlier studies that showed only about 25 percent of teenage girls were getting vaccinated. And in the glass-half-full spirit, that leaves some 66 percent of girls for Merck--and its newly approved competitor, GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK) Cervarix--to target with additional marketing.

- read the Fox News story
- check out the piece in Portfolio
- get more from Pharmalot
- see the American Journal of Preventive Medicine abstract