(Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc's experimental cancer vaccine appeared to provide broader protection against a cancer-causing virus than the company's Gardasil shot did in clinical trials, the Wall Street Journal said on Sunday.
The U.S. pharmaceutical company said the study results support its plan to submit the new vaccine, code-named V503, for U.S. regulatory approval by year's end, which could lead to market launch next year at the soonest, the paper said.
Officials at Merck were not immediately available to comment.
The article said Merck expects health-care providers to eventually switch to V503 if the product receives marketing approval.
Some analysts expect its annual sales could exceed $1 billion, the paper said.
Gardasil, launched in 2006, was the first vaccine to protect against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer in women and other less-common types of cancer in males and females.
Merck ran clinical trials to test the new vaccine's safety and efficacy, and will present results at an HPV-focused medical meeting in Florence, Italy, this week, the paper said.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)