Study: Gardasil for boys works, too

You can't accuse Merck of failing to claim new territory. The drugmaker is already trotting out research that supports using its human papillomavirus vaccine in young men and boys, as well as girls and young women. Merck aims to ask the FDA by year's end for permission to market the shot to males.

The Merck-funded study showed that Gardasil prevented 90 percent of external genital lesions caused by the strains of HPV the shot covers. The shot also was 85.6 percent effective at cutting persistent infection, the research showed. "This is groundbreaking data," one of the study's co-authors told Dow Jones.

Doubling the potential market for Gardasil in one fell swoop--that's ambitious. But it could be necessary to goose sales of the shot upward again. Gardasil has been sagging a bit lately, though it has managed to work its way through about one-third of eligible females in the U.S. The problem is that success cuts into the number of potential shot recipients, and those numbers can't be replaced by the girls aging their way into Gardasil eligibility.

- read Merck's release
- check out the WSJ Health Blog's take