Merck has won approval for a new indication of its HPV vaccine Gardasil. The FDA gave its OK to start selling Gardasil to prevent anal cancer. Investigators presented data demonstrating that Gardasil was able to prevent anal cancer and precancerous lesions with an efficacy rate reaching up to 78 percent.
"Treatment for anal cancer is challenging; the use of Gardasil as a method of prevention is important as it may result in fewer diagnoses and the subsequent surgery, radiation or chemotherapy that individuals need to endure," said Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
While rare, anal cancer has been a growing issue in the homosexual community. The rate of anal cancer in the homosexual community is 40 per 100,000 men, a figure that doubles among gay men who are HIV positive. More than 5,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the U.S.