"Approximately 75 to 80 percent of males and females will acquire one or more types of HPV in their lives and HPV-related diseases cause significant personal and public health burden for both men and women," Merck spokeswoman Pam Eisele told Bloomberg. "As such, we believe there is value in vaccinating both young men and women with Gardasil to help protect them from certain diseases caused by HPV."
Since Gardasil's approval, studies have found it safe and nearly 100 percent effective in preventing precancerous cervical lesions from the four HPV strains targeted by the vaccine.
Studies have also found that Gardasil far more effective when given to girls or young women before they become sexually active.
In another vote on Wednesday, the ACIP panel approved the use of a second HPV vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, for use in females to prevent cervical cancer. Last week, the FDA approved Cervarix for use in girls and women ages 10 to 26.
For more on HPV vaccine, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Jane Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor, health decision science, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Philip E. Castle, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, division of cancer epidemiology and genetics, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md. ; Debbie Saslow, Ph.D., director, breast and gynecologic cancer, American Cancer Society; Oct. 9, 2009, British Medical Journal online; Oct. 21, 2009, Bloomberg News