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Gadrasil Could Prove Effective in Men too

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Analysts say U.S. sales alone would top $1 billion US a year, assuming Gardasil becomes covered by private insurance plans and at least some government programs.

That number could jump to $4 billion a year if Merck comes out with a similar, perhaps identical, vaccine for young men, which it is actively working on.

(The issue with men seems to be simply one of ample testing: Until fairly recently, researchers report, men have rebelled against having swabs taken from the inside of their penis.)

The value of the drug could also go up if a growing lobby of health groups has its way. Already U.S. doctors are saying that leaving Gardasil to those families with private insurance or hit-and-miss government programs is creating an unconscionable Sophie's choice or roulette game in which certain young women would be left vulnerable to a preventable type of cancer and others are not.

In Canada, the federal government announced in its March 2007 budget that $300 million over three years will be available to the provinces and territories in support of a national vaccination program. The Conservative government noted that when new vaccines become available, it's critical to make them available to Canadians as soon as possible.

On June 20, 2007, the Nova Scotia government announced Gardasil will be offered to seventh grade girls as part of the school-based vaccination program and will not be mandatory.

The catch with Gardasil, though, is that it has proved remarkably effective against two particular strains of HPV, which in themselves are said to be responsible for upwards of 70 per cent of cervical cancers. That means Gardasil will not prevent all cervical cancers and women are still advised to get Pap tests.

But the important consideration here is that if young women have already been exposed to these two most popular strains, the vaccine has no effect. In fact, some early testing has suggested
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