In my remarks, I noted that no one had been called to speak against the bill, even though there has been much criticism both regarding the safety of the new HPV vaccine being marketed by Merck, Gardisil, and of the motive of Merck Corporation in launching a massive nationwide lobbying effort to promote immunizations of young girls through the public schools, which could be worth billions for Merck.
I did not say anything about Mercks motives at the hearing, but I would like to add now that given the shadow of corruption, of the culture of pay to play, that still darkens the image of the NCGA, this is not a good time to kowtow to a massive lobbying effort by a bloated and blatantly cynical corporation. Nor is it responsible for state legislators to rely on the authority of the FDA, which, like FEMA and other government agencies, has been purged by the Bush administration and placed under the management of political loyalists with poor qualifications. Have all of you so soon forgotten about Vioxx? Do you not recall that Merck and the FDA suppressed findings from clinical trials, and that even after word was leaked by a brave whistle blower, Merck continued to temporize and equivocate, although its executives knew full well that tens of thousands of deaths were attributable to Vioxx.
Do you assume that Merck can be trusted because it must have learned its lesson from Vioxx? Would you assume that anyone who lied for profit, causing thousands of deaths, would learn a lesson just from having once been caught? I think we should expect of our political representatives less gullibility and more hardheaded insistence on scientific integrity when dealing with questions based on presumed scientific findings. In matters of science, never trust blindly the authorities or the majority opinon. The mavericks and critics often turn out to be right. Wake up! Do not gamble on participating in medical fraud that could damage the health of thousands or tens of thousands of young girls.
When I spoke at the hearing, I meant to end with my advice I would give to my daughter, but I forgot. Well, here it is:
Wait a couple years before getting immunized, allowing a minimal amount of time for conflicting scientific studies of its safety and efficacy to be evaluated in the broader scientific community. Some serious adverse health effects occurred in the clinical trials, and we can not trust either Merck’s or the FDA’s evaluation of the clinical trials data, as they both have a record of suppressing negative data and providing misleading statistics. Meanwhile, the best way to prevent genital warts and the longer term possibility of cervical cancer if one has sex outside of a permanent strictly monogamous relationship is safe sex; and there is only one kind of safe sex: using a condom (properly). It is the only kind of safe sex with regard to HIV. It is not quite as effective with regard to HPV, but certainly as effective as the experimental vaccine. Neither gives 100% protection. The far more serious threat is HIV. So do not think you have to take the risk of getting immunized now. Just be sure that you protect yourself from HIV first, and you ought to be safe from HPV.
Andrew G. Silver, MA, MSPH
Andy Silver is an epidemiologist, peace activist since the 60's, and e-voting activist for several years. He actively works against US sponsored torture, US sponsored rendition, and against war.