Gardasil working on more than the original 4 HPV strains

Looks like Gardasil may be effective against more than just the four most-prevalent HPV strains (16, 18, 6, and 11): it’s showing promise against strains 31 and 45 as well.

HPV types 16 and 18, which are directly targeted by Gardasil, are responsible for 75 percent of all cervical cancer. But scientists found the vaccine also induces an antibody response capable of neutralising strains 31 and 45, which together account for another 8 to 9 percent of cases.

It makes me wonder how much mindshare (and possibly marketshare) Cervarix — the GSK competitor to Gardasil — will garner when it’s approved by the FDA. GSK is going to have to work hard to differentiate its vaccine against Gardasil. They’ll certainly have their work cut out for them, because you can bet Merck will be testing Gardasil against the remaining 34 strains of HPV (which makes up only a tiny percentage of cases) to see if it has any success there as well. If I were GSK, I’d be thinking about getting some more clinical trials going on strains that Merck isn’t playing with yet.

[tags]Medicine, pharmacy, Cervarix, Gardasil, HPV, cancer, oncology[/tags]

17 thoughts on “Gardasil working on more than the original 4 HPV strains

  1. If this is working against so many different strains, why is it still being held back from women over 26 and from men?

    There have been no indications that it is dangerous for anyone and no reason to believe that it is sex-specific (unlike, say, herpevac). Even if it is half as effective in these other groups, it would be of great value to them (us).

    My understanding of the law is that once a vaccine is approved for sale, a physician can administer it to any patient he or she believes can benefit from it. Is this correct?

    If so, are there in fact doctors adminstering it to men and older women? I, and most people in my 30-something age group, would get this vaccine immediately if we could.

  2. Hi John, thanks for your comment.

    Gardasil is effective in both men and women of all ages. In fact, there are some that believe that Gardasil should be given to everyone regardless of age and gender. I’m one of those people, but policymakers are unlikely to listen to me, which is why you don’t see me writing advocacy letters or Op-Ed pieces for the NY Times. ;)

    If this is working against so many different strains, why is it still being held back from women over 26 and from men?

    As far as I know, it’s not being “witheld” per se, it just hasn’t been approved for those demographics. It’s expensive to get something approved for a medical use because trials aren’t cheap. Merck chose the biggest goldmine they could: younger women of reproductive age because they could tie it to the marketing idea of a “cancer vaccine.” They knew the media would buy into it, and they have. Starting with their “Tell Someone” pre-Gardasil campaign to build buzz for HPV cervical cancer without directly marketing the drug, they knew it’d be a big winner.

    My understanding of the law is that once a vaccine is approved for sale, a physician can administer it to any patient he or she believes can benefit from it. Is this correct?

    A doctor can prescribe any medication for any condition as he sees fit. I would assume vaccines are the same way.

    If so, are there in fact doctors adminstering it to men and older women? I, and most people in my 30-something age group, would get this vaccine immediately if we could.

    I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure there are. I’m sure “off-label” prescribing for non-approved demographics will take place, but Gardasil is fairly new. Physicians can be skittish (for liability reasons) when it comes to prescribing something so new without a body of literature to back them up. Because if something untoward happens, it’s their license on the line when you sue them. They’ve got to cover their own asses, too, and I think one can hardly blame them for that.

    I’m sure as Gardasil becomes more familiar to these doctors, off-label use won’t be such a big deal. I’d say give it 6 months and ask again.

    In the meantime, I understand your frustration, and “be patient” isn’t what you want to hear. Unfortunately in our litigation-happy culture particularly as it relates to a non-absolute field like medicine, things go more slowly than we might like.

  3. hey RJS,
    yes Gardasil is given to woman any age if she asks for it.
    The logic behind agelimit 26 was, that by then most woman will have sexual contact and might have been in contact with HPV.
    However, physicians are well aware that it is unlike to have all 4 strains and depending on your sexual history (unprotected sex, multiple partners) you might have not encountered them at all and so they are more then happy to vaccinate you if you ask for it.

  4. You can get Gardasil at any age, but the problem is that your insurance will not cover the cost if you are over 26 years old. You would have to front the bill for all 3 shots, which according to my doctor are $265/each. I have heard of it being cheaper elsewhere, but still over $100 for each shot.

  5. If a person has genital warts or HPV2 and meets a woman that has had the Gardsil shots would that person be safe to have sex. I know they say that the two of the strains cause most of the genital warts so can a man have that particular strain verified as one that guardsil protects against.

  6. I really think they need to find a cure for hpv. i just got infected with hpv – genital warts and its been a hard thing to deal with.Doctors dont really have a way to help you control the warts and spread of hpv.Hpv genital warts spreads so fast and to so many people at one time its no wonder its become so far spread.What i think is they really need to be doing faster research because ive been told from friends i know personally for years that they just found out they got infected with hpv genital warts and none of them know each other or are connected in anyway. i believe in canada alone this diese is spreading so fast everyone will end up having it very soon . mark my words kids are gonna spread it because they want sex . and health board does not seem like they care to much about the spread of it

  7. Can you buy all three shots at one time? Or do you need to go back and purchase a new shot each time you need to be injected?

  8. Generally you can buy all 3 at once, if you are paying out of pocket. If there’s a third party, you’ll have to play by their rules.

  9. It is definitely available to anyone. I am male in my 20s and just had my first shot of 3. Each shot costs about $270 but is priceless in my opinion. It amazes me how slow the world is to accept anything new. The Doctors are just as slow, I do not understand why. Test trials in men will be done soon and preliminary evidence shows it works in men just as in women from what I understand.

  10. hello. i am 14 years of age and have only had one of my gardisil shots. my 2nd one was due in august and my mother has still failed to take me to the doctor….. am i going to have any serious side effects

  11. Hello to everyone,i am 28 years old,male.
    I am infected with Hpv (propably with 6 or 11) for 2,5 years..
    I broke up with my last girlfriend that i got her infected because i thought that i was healthy..
    I recently quit smoking and i am thinking of using gardasil
    because after several discussion with cytarologists and
    other docs that had serius info about HPV made the conclusion
    that its very possible to increase my anti-virus system so
    Genital symptoms would rest in peace inside me…
    Good luck to everybody

  12. i have genital warts and i didnt realize this until after a year with my newly wed wife. I went to the dermatologist and he diagnosed me with genital warts. my wife actually got the gardisil shots half way through our relationship without knowing i had it . she has taken a pap tests and showed negative(with most . according to her doctor and mine she was most likely infected and cured due to gardisil. so gardisil works on person with the hpv virus in their system. i am 27 male and i wish gardisil can be approved quicker by fda. hopefully i find a doctor willing to give me the shot despite the age factor . gardisil is effective when having the virus as well. this is the most prevelant std in the world safe sex or not it still can spread . hopefully we can defeat this =)

  13. My boyfriend is affected with gential warts, he is coming home fomr Iraq soon and we want to be intimate. I will have my first shot of gardisil next week. He is coming at the end of January, will I be ok with just one shot? I am getting all three, I need to know. So we don’t do anything that will affect me

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