Despite risks and expense, FDA approves Gardasil for boys

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which informs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on vaccine use and policy, declined to advocate for Gardasil’s systematic and widespread use in boys and men. The human papilloma virus, or HPV, does not present the same risks of cancer in males as it does in females, but it can lead to the development genital warts.

Although the committee did not press for the use of Gardasil in men, it did advise U.S. doctors to use the vaccine at their discretion. It also recommended that the shot be included in the federally funded Vaccines for Children program for boys 9 to 18 years old.

The FDA approved Gardasil on October 16 for use in preventing genital warts in males age 9 to 26. Men may carry HPV and never know about it unless it develops into warts, and even then there are no long-term effects. On the other hand, women infected with genital warts are at risk of developing cervical cancers.

Gardasil only protects against 4 strains of HPV that cause cancer and 2 strains that cause warts.

Vaccinating boys and men with Gardasil would primarily be done to reduce the number of females exposed to HPV. However, the serious risks that the Gardasil shots carry, combined with their steep cost – about $500 for a complete regimen – leave many health professionals and patients questioning whether the vaccines are worth it.

Since 2006, when the FDA approved Gardasil for use in females, more than 15,000 girls have reported adverse side effects to the FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Reactions that have been officially reported include brain inflammation, seizures, blood clots, paralysis, lupus, Guilliane Barre Syndrome, and several others. 44 deaths attributed to the vaccine have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Merck, which stands to earn billions from the shots, maintains that the vaccine is safe and that the benefits outweigh the risks. But for thousands of girls and women injured by Gardasil, the vaccines were anything but harmless – a fact made more frustratingly tragic by the lead developer’s own admission that Gardasil is ineffective and unnecessary.