That is, one less male that transmits the human papillomavirus — thought to be a major cause of cervical cancer in women — if Merck has its way.

“Men are the key transmitters of human papillomavirus,” Elmar Joura, a professor at the University of Vienna medical school, said last month. “There are real clinical grounds for giving Gardasil to boys as a primary health measure.”

“Gardasil use is rising faster than any new vaccine, and giving it to boys and young men as well as girls may push annual sales potential above $10 billion, says Lisa Kelly, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd. in Edinburgh. That would make Gardasil Merck’s best-seller.” (See “Gardasil Sales: $10b per Year?“).

Merck’s first hurdle, of course, is getting FDA to approve a new indication for men (boys, actually; older, married men like me are not likely to sexually transmit viruses to the general population of young, teenage girls, despite any sexual fantasies we may have to the contrary!).

The second hurdle is convincing states to pay for vaccination of teenage boys as it did in the case of girls (see “Gardasil: To Be Mandatory or Not To Be Mandatory — That is the Question“). I imagine Merck hiring the Boy Scouts of America or some such boy lobby to persuade state legislators that mandatory vaccination of boys is necessary.

The third hurdle is convincing boys — their moms actually — that they should be vaccinated in order to protect the slutty girls they have sex with in high school! Oh yeah! I can see the moms lining their sons up for that!

The New Gardasil DTC Campaign
In any case, what would the Gardasil DTC ads look like that target young boys? There won’t be any moving images of jumping rope, I assure you. Maybe the ads would show teenage boys and girls together taking responsibility for the consequences of their sexual intimacy? That surely would not go over well with the religious right who objected to Gardasil early on because they thought it would promote sexual promiscuity among teenagers.

So, before you go out and buy Merck stock — which you should have done a year ago — you first might consider the three hurdles mentioned above.

P.S. Forgot to mention a fourth hurdle: Competition from Glaxo (read about that here).