Atlanta For the first time, an expensive vaccine aimed at preventing cervical cancer in women has proven successful at preventing a disease in men, according to a new study.
The disease? It's genital warts, a sexually transmitted problem that is embarrassing and uncomfortable but not life-threatening.
Still, the results are expected to bolster a likely bid by the vaccine's manufacturer - Merck & Co. Inc. - to begin marketing the vaccine to boys, experts said. Merck plans to ask the government for that approval later this year.
"This opens the door to a wonderful opportunity to prevent illness," said Anna Giuliano, a Tampa-based researcher who worked on the Merck-funded study. She is an epidemiologist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
The results of the study were to be presented today at a medical conference in Europe.
The focus was Merck's vaccine, Gardasil, which is given in three doses over six months and is priced at about $375.