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HPV Vaccine – When Profits Come Before Safety

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Gardasil is a vaccine manufactured by Merck & Co., which targets the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and was approved by the FDA in June of 2006. It is administrated in three doses over a six-month period at a cost of between $360-400 per person, making it one of the most expensive vaccines of all time. It has been recommended for girls and young women, and there has been a push by some to make the vaccine mandatory in some states. This would translate into even more profits. Merck recently reported a 63% rise in net income for its third quarter. Total vaccine sales went from $555 million to $1.2 billion, fueled mostly by Gardasil. The vaccine is not a cure for cervical cancer, and many believe that its benefits have been greatly exaggerated, leading to a false sense of security. There are some who believe that the money spent on this expensive vaccine could have been better spent on pap smears, which can detect pre-cancerous cells. The HPV vaccine is being marketed as a cancer drug when it is essentially a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease. There is now a push towards mandating every new vaccine that comes out on the market, and it is unclear how long this particular vaccine's effectiveness will last. Many serious side effects including deaths have been linked to the HPV vaccine over the last several months. What is good for Big Pharma isn't necessarily good for our children.

HPV is a virus transmitted through sexual activity that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, with 30 strains thought to be associated with cervical cancer. The new vaccine only prevents infections of four strains of HPV, and it has been due to more routine pap smears, that there has been a 70% decline in cervical cancer in the U.S. over the last few decades. Those who do get the virus don't automatically get cervical cancer with many infections clearing up. Girls who live a healthy lifestyle have little risk of developing cancer from HPV and cervical cancer most often develops in older women. It is those with compromised immune systems, women who don't get regular pap smears, those with multiple sexual partners, poor nutrition, and poor hygiene who are most vulnerable. There are many who believe that the vaccine will lead to more unprotected and underage sex and encourage promiscuity. Most trials of the vaccine were on adults, and there is no idea on its long-term effects on young girls. Some have accused Merck of assuming that because its tests were shown to be safe in older girls, the same would go for the younger ones. Diane M. Harper, a scientist, physician, professor, and director at the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at Dartmouth Medical School said, “it's not been tested in little girls for efficacy. At 11, the girls don't get cervical cancer- they won't know for 25 years if they will get cervical cancer.” She went on to say, “Giving it to 11 year-olds is a great big experiment.” The President of Judaical Watch said, “It looks as if an unproven vaccine with dangerous side effects is being pushed as a miracle drug.” Gardasil is based on fear-mongering and distortions, with many adverse effects which threaten our children.

Some have criticized that it took too long to get the HPV vaccine approved and on the market, and as a result lives were lost. In light of the fact that there has been some 11 deaths and thousands of adverse reactions reported, it appears as if more time and care should have be taken. In a rush to get it out on the market, we are shown another example of putting profits before safety. Almost immediately after the FDA approved the vaccine, there was a mad dash by some legislators, no doubt influenced by Merck lobbyists, to draft bills mandating vaccination programs in some states. Thanks to Judaical Watch obtaining important data through a Freedom of Information lawsuit, complications associated with the HPV vaccine were brought to the public's attention. The FDA had refused to release any information pertaining to adverse effects, even though some have died as a result of heart complications and blood clots associated with the vaccine. Some 25% of all complications reported were of serious nature and include tingling, numbness, temporary paralysis of the muscles, seizures, neurological conditions along with others. Some side effects published by Merck include pain, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headaches, toothaches, itching, and swelling after getting the shot. These aren't quite as serious as the ones that were left out. There have been many warnings of the dangers of pregnant women being vaccinated, and almost half who took the HPV vaccine while pregnant experienced side effects, some as serious as spontaneous abortions and malformed babies. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “The FDA adverse event reports on the HPV vaccine read like a catalog of horrors.” These disturbing side effects will only increase as more and more girls are vaccinated. In an effort to restore public confidence, both the FDA and Merck are denying that any of the deaths and serious adverse effects are linked to Gardasil. There must be a full investigation into the practices of Merck, the FDA, and the whole pharmaceutical industry. This seems like a case of Merck manipulating the medical profession, politicians, the media, and parents in order to achieve more profits.

In early 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry passed an executive order that would have required girls 11-12 to take the HPV vaccine, completely bypassing the legislature and ignoring opposition from parental rights organizations. It later came out that there were connections between Merck and some in Perry's office. The Texas legislator blocked Perry's initiative, with the House voting 135-2 and making their decision veto-proof. Even before Gardasil was approved, there was an intense lobbying effort to get states to mandate the vaccine. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was pimping out the vaccine by doing on-air promotions for Gardasil eight months before it was approved. It came out that the organization,“Women in Government,” who have been actively promoting the vaccine, received financial contributions from Merck. It is also interesting to note that two of Merck's former biologists were on the FDA panel that approved Gardasil. Merck's aggressive lobbying efforts and the reports of thousands of adverse reactions and some deaths associated with the vaccine created a strong backlash, forcing them to abandon their goal of getting it mandated in every state. Any forced drugging or inoculations goes well beyond the state's role. It is a threat to parental authority and interferes with their rights to make medical decisions for their children.

Currently, 38 states have either passed or are considering legislation to mandate, fund, or educate the public on the HPV vaccine. Merck's affiliate Merck Frosst Canada has been busy lobbying the federal and provincial governments in that country. In July, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Government approved the HPV vaccine and later announced $300 million to be distributed among the provinces for vaccination programs. In the UK, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that all 12 and 13 year-old girls be given the HPV vaccine, and also recommenced a catchup program. Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, Norway along with other countries have also recommended that Gardasil be given to girls and young women. Despite all the controversy associated with its new vaccine, Merck is poised to make a killing in profits, pardon the bad pun.

It now appears as if the FDA's role is to further facilitate and ensure profits for Big Pharma, and there is a goal of getting new drugs on the market more quickly and cheaply. This has resulted in less testing for safety and effectiveness. Do we really want to trust our children's health and lives with Merck? These are the same guys who have already displayed their willingness to put profits before safety. In the case of Vioxx, close to 30.000 people died in the name of greed and neglect. Merck has been accused of distorting negative disclosures, omitting information, and cherry-picking from their own research. Many are concerned, and rightfully so, that their latest cash cow Gardasil hasn't been properly tested, and there is a misconception by some that the the HPV vaccine will provide full protection against cervical cancer. Although it was originally marketed for girls, some are now advising that school-aged boys get the new vaccine as well, perhaps another attempt to increase profits. No one should be lab rats or guinea pigs. How many people are going to be sacrificed in the name of profits for Big Pharma before we all get mad and do something about it? There is a growing distrust among more and more parents towards vaccines and a genuine concern that their children are already overloaded with them. Parents must be better educated in order to make informed decisions, but ultimately the HPV vaccine is a matter of parental and individual choice, and in no way should it be mandated by the government.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues.
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while I agree with most of what you state in your ... by Jan Baumgartner on Friday, Oct 26, 2007 at 2:41:50 PM