On the Call: Merck/Human Health EVP/Adam Schechter

During drugmaker Merck & Co. Inc.'s conference call its third-quarter results Friday, executives discussed trends for Gardasil, its top-selling vaccine. Gardasil raised controversy early on because it blocks, human papilloma virus _ a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical, oral and other cancers. Also, the three-shot series costs just over $400 without insurance. It competes with GlaxoSmithKline PLC's Cervarix. Only about one-third of American girls have gotten all three Gardasil shots. But a year ago, federal health advisers recommended that males aged 9 through 26 also get it to prevent spread of the virus. Sales have grown steadily recently, and in 2012's first three quarters, hit a total of $1.19 billion, nearly the total for all of 2011.

QUESTION: I believe this is at least the second quarter you noted that boys are driving Gardasil sales. Can you provide details?

ANSWER: If you look at U.S. sales, we had 25 percent year-over-year growth and a lot of that, we believe, is due to continued uptake by (males). ... Globally, we've got over an 80 percent share and in the U.S., we have greater than 95 percent share. ... In the private sector, data suggests that about 55 percent of our first doses are being administered to males.