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    Texas Mandates STD Vaccination for Elementary Age Schoolgirls


    by: Betsy L. Angert

    Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 15:57:28 PM EST


    (For further discussion . . . - promoted by Betsy L. Angert)

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Please view this Gardasil Commercial.  Does this preparation protect the young and naïve?  Might this drug cause undetermined side effects?  What might these be?  Societal effects may be as daunting as physiological.  You decide.

    I share this information only to stimulate thought and discussion.  I am baffled when a Governor acts against his own interests and supposed beliefs.  Texas Governor Rick Perry is a conservative Christian.  He avidly opposes abortion and strongly disagrees with policies that encourage the use of embryonic cells in stem-cell research.  This Southern Governor considers the religious right his political base; he depends on their votes and continued support.  Without these God-fearing persons residing in the Lone Star state, the Governor cannot function as he does. 

    Yet, Friday, Governor Perry seems to acted against the will of his people.  He imposed a law that would mandate cervical cancer vaccines for very young girls.  Sixth graders, ages eleven and twelve [11 and 12] would receive inoculations, protecting them against a sexually transmitted disease.

    Betsy L. Angert :: Texas Mandates STD Vaccination for Elementary Age Schoolgirls
    Perry chose to bypass the legislative branch and invoke an executive order.  Thus, the Governor avoided voices that he knew would object to his action.  His signing did not draw the attention a Bill going through Congress might have.
    By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition from conservatives and parents' rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans rear their children.

    Starting in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade -- generally ages 11 and 12 -- will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus.

    The Texas Governor states there is no difference between a vaccine used to protect sexually active individuals from diseases transmitted through intercourse and a polio vaccine.

    In Illinois, the same practice is being proposed.  Last week this procedure was recommended in a Senate Bill.  If passed, eleven and twelve [11 and 12] year old schoolgirls would receive the required vaccination by the 2009 school year.

    One might wonder why this is happening.  As I often say, "I know nothing with certainty."  I only offer what I do understand.

    Mr. Perry's action, praised by health advocates, caught many by surprise in a largely conservative state where sexual politics is often a battleground.
    Under this Texas program, girls and young women, between the ages of nine [9] and twenty-one [21] if eligible for public assistance would receive the injection for free. 

    The second-term Governor, recently re-elected explained, "Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs."

    Human Papillomavirus [HPV,] affects 20 million people nationally.  One in four 15-to-24-year-olds is afflicted with this disease.  Human Papillomavirus is the nation's most common sexually transmitted malady.  According to Governor Perry's statement, Texas has the second-highest number of women with cervical cancer.  In the Lone Star State alone, there were nearly 400 deaths last year.  Clearly, the Governor has reason for concern.  Yet, other issues boggle the average Joe, or Jane's mind.

    Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls.  It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group of female state legislators nationwide.

    Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government.  One of the drug company's lobbyists in Texas is Perry's former chief of staff.  His current chief of staff's mother-in-law is a state director for Women in Government.

    I looked further for other sources of information.  I discovered parents could opt out of the program.  However, this is not the source of consolation for many.
    Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.

    Texas allows parents to opt out of inoculations by filing an affidavit objecting to the vaccine on religious or philosophical reasons.  Even with such provisions, however, conservative groups say such requirements interfere with parents' rights to make medical decisions for their children.

    The federal government approved Gardasil in June, and a government advisory panel has recommended that all girls get the shots at 11 and 12, before they are likely to be sexually active.

    The New Jersey-based drug company could generate billions in sales if Gardasil - at $360 for the three-shot regimen - were made mandatory across the country.  Most insurance companies now cover the vaccine, which has been shown to have no serious side effects.

    Merck spokeswoman Janet Skidmore would not say how much the company is spending on lobbyists or how much it has donated to Women in Government.  Susan Crosby, the group's president, also declined to specify how much the drug company gave.

    Upon reading this I felt a need to know more.  I thought Merck had been through enough.  In Texas alone a jury ruled, Merck negligent.
    Jury: Merck negligent
    Merck blamed for death in Vioxx suit; jury awards $253 million in damages.  Drug giant to appeal.
    August 22, 2005: 12:33 PM EDT
    By Aaron Smith, CNN/Money staff writer

    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Merck has been held liable by a Texas jury in the first lawsuit involving its former blockbuster drug Vioxx, in a case that could have a profound effect on thousands of other cases filed against the company.

    Plaintiff Carol Ernst has won her lawsuit in Texas Superior Court in Angleton, which blames Vioxx for the 2001 death of her husband, Robert Ernst, a 59-year-old marathon runner and Wal-Mart worker who was taking the arthritis painkiller at the time of his death.  Ernst died of a heart attack.

    The verdict held Merck liable for the death.  Jurors voted 10-2 in favor of Ernst.

    The jury awarded more than $250 million in total damages -- $24 million to Carol Ernst for mental anguish and loss of companionship, and $229 million in punitive damages.  Ernst's Houston-based lawyer, Mark Lanier, said the punitive-damages figure was based on "the money Merck made and saved by putting off their product label changes."

    Lanier had been seeking $40.4 million in damages, and after the verdict, Lanier said that he expected the punitive-damages award to be reduced according to Texas law.

    "Justice is a beautiful thing, isn't it?"  Lanier told reporters following the verdict.

    However, Merck did state their plans to appeal the decision.  Still they may have problems in other states.  In reading this, I conclude as Merck does, perhaps they are free to do as they have done before, stimulate profits at the expense of people.
    N.J. court revives Vioxx lawsuit
    Ruling reinstates lawsuit that aims to force Merck to fund medical monitoring program for past Vioxx users.
    January 17 2007: 5:39 PM EST

    CHICAGO (Reuters) -- A New Jersey appeals court has revived a lawsuit that sought to force drugmaker Merck & Co. Inc. to fund a medical monitoring program for patients who took the painkiller Vioxx.

    The state appellate court ruled on Tuesday that N.J. Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee's decision to dismiss the lawsuit was premature and failed to give the plaintiffs the opportunity to prove legally accepted claims.

    The appeals court said in a 26-page opinion that it was not expressing an opinion on the ultimate viability of the lawsuit.

    Plaintiffs in the case sought a court-administered medical screening program, funded by Merck (Charts) that would provide medical and diagnostic tests for each member of the class to detect potential heart problems arising from exposure to Vioxx.

    "There is no medical science supporting the plaintiffs' position that they need to be monitored for cardiovascular conditions two years after Vioxx was voluntarily taken off the market," Merck attorney Ted Mayer said in an e-mailed statement.

    Mayer said Merck is considering its options, including asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to review the case.

    "Almost every court in the country has rejected class action treatment of medical monitoring claims because each plaintiff's claim needs to be evaluated individually," he said.

    Deutsche Bank analyst Barbara Ryan said the ruling just means the case has been sent back to the lower court for a ruling.

    If Merck is required to fund a medical monitoring program, Ryan said she doubted many former Vioxx users would take advantage of it because of the inconvenience and the low risk of suffering a heart attack if they had taken Vioxx only briefly.

    I continued to consider the case of the schoolgirls.  "Women in Government" the organization associated with Governor Rick Perry's Chief of Staff's mother-in-law, at first blush seems to be a well meaning group.
    Women In Government is a national 501(c)(3), non-profit, bi-partisan organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums, and educational resources to address and resolve complex public policy issues.

    Women In Government leads the nation with a bold, courageous, and passionate vision that empowers and mobilizes all women legislators to effect sound policy.

    Why might they work in tandem with Merck to vaccinate young girls?  I searched page after page hoping to better understand the motivation of this foundation.  Some say, follow the money.  Thus, I did.  The list of "sponsors" revealed much and confused me more.  Some of their associates I hold in high regard.  I am indifferent to others.  Merck was once honored in my family.  My grandfather, a pharmacist, recalls Merck was originally a distributor of fine chemicals.  Initially, they engaged in important medical research.  Now, I do not know.  Please peruse and ponder.  Please tell me what you think.
    Current Sponsors

    2 Red Hens
    3M Pharmaceuticals
    Abbott
    Adeza Biomedical
    AEP-SWEPCO
    Allergan, Inc.
    Altria Corporate Services, Inc.
    Alzheimer's Association
    American Diabetes Association
    Amgen
    Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 
    Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
    The Annie E. Casey Foundation
    Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.?
    Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
    AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
    Bayer HealthCare
    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
    Bobby Hogue & Associates
    Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    Bose Treacy Associates
    Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
    Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
    Catalis
    C-Change
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association
    Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Foundation
    CVS/pharmacy
    DaimlerChrysler
    Digene Corporation
    Digital Healthcare, Inc.
    Discovery Health Channel
    Duke Energy
    Edison Electric Institute
    Electronic Data Systems
    Eli Lilly and Company
    Entergy Arkansas?
    Exxon Mobil?
    Glaxo Smith Kline?
    Highland Campus Health Group?
    Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc.?
    Ice Miller LLP
    Indiana Health Care Association
    Indiana Ophthalmology Association
    Indiana State Chiropractic Association
    Indiana State Medical Association
    Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives
    Insight Communications
    Johnson & Johnson
    KWK Management Group, LLC
    Lumina Foundation for Education
    Managed Health Services
    McDonald's
    Merck & Company, Inc.
    Michigan Association of Health Plans
    Mullenix & Associates
    National Hemophilia Foundation
    National Life Group
    Nellie Mae Education Foundation
    Novartis Pharmaceuticals
    Novo Nordisk, Inc.
    Ohio Hospital Association
    Pepco Holdings, Inc.
    Pfizer, Inc.
    PhRMA
    Procter & Gamble
    Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC?
    Roche Diagnostics Corporation
    Sanofi Aventis
    Schering-Plough Corporation
    Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    State Farm Insurance
    Third Wave Technologies, Inc.
    Verizon Communications
    Wal-Mart
    Ward Health Strategies
    WellPoint, Inc.
    Wholesale Beer Distributors of Arkansas, Inc.
    Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

    I will verbalize no assessment though I am interested in yours.  Please share your thoughts on this story.  Do elementary schoolgirls need a required vaccine, protecting them against sexually transmitted diseases?  Might Governor Perry have proposed the possibility and asked for a dialogue.  Will his constituents be pleased and is he concerned?  If Rick Perry is demonstrating compassion, whom might it be for? 

    Is the Illinois State Senate seeking inoculations for the innocent because they wish to be benevolent?

    Why drives Merck and the Women in Government.  Are their visions disparate?  Please share your thoughts me.  What motivates any of us?  This question is not rhetorical.  I really wish to understand.

    References for Reflection . . .

  • Texas Is First to Require Cancer Shots for Schoolgirls,  By Ralph Blumenthal.  Boston Globe.  New York Times.  February 3, 2007
  • Texas governor orders anti-cancer vaccine for schoolgirls.  USA Today.  February 2, 2007
  • Gardasil Commercial.  YouTube.
  • Texas orders STD shot for girls Sixth-graders will be vaccinated starting in '08, By Liz Austin Peterson.  Chicago Sun Times.  February 3, 2007
  • Jury: Merck negligent Merck blamed for death in Vioxx suit; jury awards $253 million in damages.  Drug giant to appeal.  By Aaron Smith.  Cable News Network, Money. August 22, 2005
  • N.J. court revives Vioxx lawsuit Ruling reinstates lawsuit that aims to force Merck to fund medical monitoring program for past Vioxx users.  Cable News Network, Money.  January 17, 2007
  • Women In Government
  • Women In Government Sponsors
  • Tags: , , , , , , , , , , (All Tags)
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    GARDASIL facts, posting for stickdog (11.00 / 2)
    Stickdog submits . . .

    The Facts About GARDASIL (0.00 / 0) [delete comment]
    IP Address: 24.23.238.251

    1) GARDASIL is a vaccine for 4 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that are strongly associated (and probably cause) genital warts and two strains that are typically associated (and may cause) cervical cancer. About 90% of people with genital warts show exposure to one of the two HPV strains strongly suspected to cause genital warts. About 70% of women with cervical cancer show exposure to one of the other two HPV strains that the vaccine is designed to confer resistance to.

    2) HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus. When you consider all strains of HPV, over 70% of sexually active males and females have been exposed. A condom helps a lot (70% less likely to get it), but has not been shown to stop transmission in all cases (only one study of 82 college girls who self-reported about condom use has been done). For the vast majority of women, exposure to HPV strains (even the four "bad ones" protected for in GARDASIL) results in no known health complications of any kind.

    3) Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US or any other first world nation. Cervical cancer rates have declined sharply over the last 30 years and are still declining. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of of all female cancer cases and deaths in the US. Cervical cancer is typically very treatable and the prognosis for a healthy outcome is good. The typical exceptions to this case are old women, women who are already unhealthy and women who don't get pap smears until after the cancer has existed for many years.

    4) Merck's clinical studies for GARDASIL were problematic in several ways. Only 20,541 women were used (half got the "placebo") and their health was followed up for only four years at maximum and typically 1-3 years only. More critically, only 1,121 of these subjects were less than 16. The younger subjects were only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

    5) Both the "placebo" groups and the vaccination groups reported a myriad of short term and medium term health problems over the course of their evaluations. The majority of both groups reported minor health complications near the injection site or near the time of the injection. Among the vaccination group, reports of such complications were slightly higher. The small sample that was given a real placebo reported far fewer complications - as in less than half. Furthermore, most if not all longer term complications were written off as not being potentially vaccine caused for all subjects.

    6) Because the pool of test subjects was so small and the rates of cervical cancer are so low, NOT A SINGLE CONTROL SUBJECT ACTUALLY CONTRACTED CERVICAL CANCER IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM - MUCH LESS DIED OF IT. Instead, this vaccine's supposed efficacy is based on the fact that the vaccinated group ended up with far fewer cases (5 vs. about 200) of genital warts and "precancerous lesions" (dysplasias) than the alum injected "control" subjects.

    7) Because the tests included just four years of follow up at most, the long term effects and efficacy of this vaccine are completely unknown for anyone. All but the shortest term effects are completely unknown for little girls. Considering the tiny size of youngster study, the data about the shortest terms side effects for girls are also dubious.

    8) GARDASIL is the most expensive vaccine ever marketed. It requires three vaccinations at $120 a pop for a total price tag of $360. It is expected to be Merck's biggest cash cow of this and the next decade.

    These are simply the facts of the situation as presented by Merck and the FDA.

    Sources --

    Merck and the FDA:

    http://www.fda.gov/c...

    NY Times:

    http://query.nytimes...

    Alum Injections Cause Neural Death in Mice:

    http://www.straight....
    http://journals.huma....

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. ~ Ian Anderson. Jethro Tull

    Betsy L. Angert

    BeThink


    More On GARDASIL (8.67 / 3)
    There are two sides to every discussion, of course. This vaccine does appear to confer some benefits. If I were a sexually active woman who disliked condoms and liked to have multiple sex partners who had not yet been exposed to any of the four strains of HPV that this vaccine protects against, I just might sign myself up.

    But that's not the same thing as making this vaccine MANDATORY for a preteen population it was not rigorously tested on a scant 8 months after its initial rush job FDA approval.

    Aside from all the known risks of all vaccines, the unknown risks of this three shot regimen for preteens along with their other vaccine load, and the unknown long term risks of this vaccine for all populations, we have to look at cost vs. benefit.

    7861 of the placebo subjects contracted 83 cases of HPV 6-, 11-, 16-, 18-related dysplasias during the testing period compared compared to 4 cases among the 7858 subjects who were given GARDASIL. That's after counting out every subject with any prior exposure to these strains. This includes 42 of the less serious HPV 6-, 11- related low grade dysplasias.

    Merck has published no data for how many non-HPV 6-, 11-, 16-, 18-related dysplasias were contracted by these subjects over these periods, but some practitioners have commented that they expect the vaccine to protect against 40%-50% of all dysplasias.

    In terms of every possible kind of dysplasia for which this vaccine confers protection, Merck's own clinical evidence suggests that this vaccine saved about 10 patients out of each 1000 injected from the painful process of having these dysplasias treated (over the entire course of follow ups which ranged from 18 months to 4 years). Note that the populations for these studies were not preteens but women at the height of their sexual activity. Further note that since the vaccine uses virus-like particles (a new vaccine technology) and is only about five years in testing now, there is no guarantee that it has any long term efficacy.

    Of course, the pre-teen population is so less sexually active (and when active, so much less likely to be active with a previously contaminated partner) that I think it would be conservative to estimate that preteens are 5 times less likely to contract HPV dysplasias than the 16 to 26 year olds who were tested by Merck. So instead of saving 10 women per 1000 from painful treatments for HPV dysplasias, this vaccine would save perhaps 2 girls per 1000 from these procedures among the much younger population that Merck and Merck's politicians are targeting for mandatory vaccination.

    Do we really want to pursue a public policy that costs $360,000 to vaccinate every 1000 girls while exposing each and every one of these thousand girls to the known adverse short term and largely unknown long terms side effects of three injections of a new vaccine just to save two of the more sexually active of these kids from having to have their dysplasias treated conventionally?

    What kind of a risk and cost vs. benefit trade off is that?

    Note that nowhere are we discussing actual incidences of cervical cancer because there is no clinical evidence whatsoever that GARDASIL reduces cervical cancer rates, and even if we place our hope in the the fact that it might, cervical cancer is simply not a meaningful health risk for any girl in the target vaccination population who is getting an annual pap smear.

    While it is a widely accepted medical theory that HPV "causes" cervical cancer, it's not close to being a fact. Although the vast majority do, many cases of cervical cancer don't show any association with HPV. It's a very good guess that certain strains of HPV are necessary co-factors for certain highly prevalent types of cervical cancer to emerge. The two really bad strains protected for in GARDASIL go hand in hand with 70% of CURRENT cervical cancer cases. My point is that there are 36 nasty strains of HPV screened for currently, and the human body is an ecology. We have no idea how protection against the two strains of HPV that are CURRENTLY most prevalently associated with cervical cancer (typically decades after initial exposure) will affect overall cervical cancer rates far in the future.

    What we instead DO know is that current practices of annual pap smears and screening for ALL bad strains of HPV continue to reduce rates of cervical cancer among the US population annually. If all US women received a pap smear every year and were then promptly treated for any abnormal growths encountered, both the cervical cancer contraction and mortality rates would plummet even further to the point where HPV-associated cervical cancer would kill no more than a handful of US women a year. Yes, that is a guess as well, but it's a far better guess than assuming that conferring protection against four of the myriad of current and future strains of harmful HPV will somehow do the trick.

    Certainly GARDASIL's benefit data against the four strains of HPV it targets are compelling. HOWEVER, the benefit data against ALL forms of HPV are not published by Merck and estimated by OP-GYNs to be a mixed bag. The benefit data against cervical cancer itself are nonexistent. The long term risk data for any population are nonexistent. There are almost no risk data at all for pre-teens. The fact that the "placebo control" was a shot of alum that was recently shown to cause neural death in mice is particularly problematic in terms of interpreting the small amount of risk data that were gathered.

    Studies of the long-term benefits of a new drug or vaccine take a long time. It would take several decades to prove conclusively that this vaccine prevents cervical cancer deaths. So why the rush to make these three injections COMPULSORY for preteens?

    Perhaps this would be excusable if GARDASIL conferred protection against HPV generally, but it does not. We have absolutely no way of even guessing how conferring protection against four strains of HPV will affect cervical cancer rates decades down the line. If you do, please quantify the expected benefits in terms of the expected reduction of cervical cancer contraction and mortality rates for the population of US women who get annual pap smears. The only thing you can say about these numbers are that they are unknown and tiny.

    I am not trying to stop anyone from signing up themselves or their kids for this. If you want to pay $360 to make your little girl one of Merck's test subjects, please do. As I said, the vaccine shows promise. It may be a life saver for a small segment of the population (especially those too poor or uninformed to get annual pap smears), and it offers protection against most genital warts and a good percentage of HPV dysplasias. The procedures to remove these warts and dysplasias are very painful, so these benefits are compelling. However, the risk and cost vs. benefit profile of this vaccine is not such that it is good public policy to mandate it -- especially not for a pre-teen population on which it has never been sufficiently tested -- even with an "opt out" clause. If Merck wants to make sure that women and parents who want it and can't afford it can get it, they should offer it to low income individuals and families on a sliding scale rather than lobbying state and federal governments to pony up the billions.


    [ Parent ]
    preventative medicine? (7.50 / 2)
    Dear stickdog and others . . .

    I belatedly submitted my comment to your first comment.  I know that you and I understand we began this dialogue elsewhere.  Thus, the confusion.

    Now as we communicate in real time and after reading your last comment, I can only say wow!!!!!!!

    While it is a widely accepted medical theory that HPV "causes" cervical cancer, it's not close to being a fact. Although the vast majority do, many cases of cervical cancer don't show any association with HPV. It's a very good guess that certain strains of HPV are necessary co-factors for certain highly prevalent types of cervical cancer to emerge. The two really bad strains protected for in GARDASIL go hand in hand with 70% of CURRENT cervical cancer cases. My point is that there are 36 nasty strains of HPV screened for currently, and the human body is an ecology. We have no idea how protection against the two strains of HPV that are CURRENTLY most prevalently associated with cervical cancer (typically decades after initial exposure) will affect overall cervical cancer rates far in the future.

    What we instead DO know is that current practices of annual pap smears and screening for ALL bad strains of HPV continue to reduce rates of cervical cancer among the US population annually. If all US women received a pap smear every year and were then promptly treated for any abnormal growths encountered, both the cervical cancer contraction and mortality rates would plummet even further to the point where HPV-associated cervical cancer would kill no more than a handful of US women a year. Yes, that is a guess as well, but it's a far better guess than assuming that conferring protection against four of the myriad of current and future strains of harmful HPV will somehow do the trick.

    It is interesting.  I totally believe in preventative medicine; yet, I wonder if requiring young girls to pay for costly inoculations is preventative.  Will parents opt out or is the campaign so powerful.  We know that currently drug companies sell prescription drugs on television.  Consumers are promoted to ask their doctors for a miracle cure.

    If the injections only protect for some strains, are we truly shielding these children from harm.  How many young women will qualify for the publicly funded vaccine?  It seems a high cost to pay.  The consumer receives minimal protection, and perhaps, uncertain benefits.

    Again, stickdog I thank you for furthering our understanding.

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. ~ Ian Anderson. Jethro Tull

    Betsy L. Angert

    BeThink


    [ Parent ]
    So much information thank you! (9.00 / 1)
    Stickdog:

    I truly am in awe at the depth of your knowledge.
    I suspected all along that this was a scheme of some sort by Merck.

    The information you shared confirms my suspicions.

    Do we really want to pursue a public policy that costs $360,000 to vaccinate every 1000 girls while exposing each and every one of these thousand girls to the known adverse short term and largely unknown long terms side effects of three injections of a new vaccine just to save two of the more sexually active of these kids from having to have their dysplasias treated conventionally?
    What kind of a risk and cost vs. benefit trade off is that?
    Note that nowhere are we discussing actual incidences of cervical cancer because there is no clinical evidence whatsoever that GARDASIL reduces cervical cancer rates, and even if we place our hope in the fact that it might, cervical cancer is simply not a meaningful health risk for any girl in the target vaccination population who is getting an annual pap smear.
    This is a get rich quick plan fostered by big money with total disregard to it's efficacy.

    The governor of Texas should be ashamed of himself. Unfortunately in the era of George W. Bush this is standard operating procedure.

    Stickdog is there an outcry in either the Texas Press or the medical community?

    Thank you for both your research and your sharing of what you have learned.
    It is enlightening.

    May you stay forever young
    Berenice


    [ Parent ]
    I thank you so much for excellent resources. (5.50 / 2)
    Dear stickdog . . .

    I thank you so much for sharing such excellent resources.

    The New York Times article is superior!!!!  I wish I had seen that earlier.  I am offering snippets of this report for easy access.  I think this exposé is beyond worthy!

    let's think carefully before requiring young girls to get this vaccine, which protects against a sexually transmitted virus, in order to go to school. This isn't polio or measles, diseases that are easily transmitted through casual contact. Infection with this virus requires intimate contact, of the kind that doesn't occur in classrooms.

    Besides, we already know how to prevent cervical cancer in this country, and we've done a darn good job of it. In the war against cancer, the battle against cervical cancer has been a success story.

    Why, then, did federal health officials recommend the inoculation of about 30 million American girls and young women against the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that in rare cases leads to cervical cancer?

    Vaccine supporters say that some 3,700 American women die of cervical cancer each year, and close to 10,000 cases are diagnosed. Cervical cancer has a relatively high survival rate, but every death is tragic and treatment can rob women of their fertility.

    Still, you have to see the numbers in context. Cervical cancer deaths have been dropping consistently in the United States -- and have been for decades.

    Cervical cancer has gone from being one of the top killers of American women to not even being on the top 10 list. This year cervical cancer will represent just 1 percent of the 679,510 new cancer cases and 1 percent of the 273,560 anticipated cancer deaths among American women. By contrast, some 40,970 women will die of breast cancer and 72,130 will die of lung cancer.

    According to the American Cancer Society Web site, ''Between 1955 and 1992, the number of cervical cancer deaths in the United States dropped by 74 percent.'' Think about it: 74 percent.

    The number of cases diagnosed each year and the number of deaths per year have continued to drop, even though the population is growing.

    From 1997 to 2003, the number of cervical cancers in the United States dropped by 4.5 percent each year, while the number of deaths dropped by 3.8 percent each year, according to a government Web site that tracks cancer trends, called SEER or Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/cervix.html). This, while many other cancers are on the rise.

    If current trends continue, by the time my 9-year-old daughter is 48, the median age when cervical cancer is diagnosed, there will be only a few thousand cases of the cancer in women, and about 1,000 deaths or fewer each year, even without the vaccine.

    The secret weapon? Not so secret. It's the Pap smear. A simple, quick, relatively noninvasive test that's part and parcel of routine preventive health care for women. It provides early warnings of cellular changes in the cervix that are precursors for cancer and can be treated.

    An American Cancer Society spokeswoman said that most American women who get cervical cancer these days are women who either had never had a Pap smear or had not followed the follow-up and frequency guidelines. So perhaps we could redirect the public money that would be spent on this vaccine -- one of the most expensive ever, priced at $360 for the series of three shots -- to make sure all women in the United States get preventive health care.

    The debate, the dialogue is important.  Can we know whether we have seen all the information?  How thorough were the studies.  I have since heard many speculate the research is inadequate.  The need, depending, is there or not.

    The ethics, the education, the profit earnings.  There is much to consider.  I thank you for expanding the knowledge.

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. ~ Ian Anderson. Jethro Tull

    Betsy L. Angert

    BeThink


    [ Parent ]
    far more involved than a governor's executive order (7.50 / 2)
    Dear stickdog . . .

    I do not know how or why you began your research. I only trust that it is incredible and I greatly appreciate all the information you share.

    I thank you so much for presenting all that you have here at BeThink. You certainly have stimulated a need for further thought and reflection.

    This issue is obviously far more involved than a governor's executive order, and the effects it might have on the lives of young girls!

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. ~ Ian Anderson. Jethro Tull

    Betsy L. Angert

    BeThink


    [ Parent ]
    It's Simple... (9.33 / 3)
    Governor Goodhair is trying to be President Bush - "If he can make up shit (suggested by his Merck employed former Chief of Staff [who wears a Cheney Mask]), and do it regardless of our Constitution - why not. We can call it Law, West of the Pecos (but in Austin). Bush is Supreme Leader of America - Why can't Governor Goodhair be Supreme Leader of Texas. Who needs laws? Just make more money off America. Meanwhile, suffer these little women who must still pay for cheer school, pageants, pose for the dirty old bankers, advertisers, photographers, pornographers, dirty dads, coaches, voyeurs and stalkers, jealous boyfriends with other STD's, and still try to get an education between texting, malling, purging, laxatives, enemas, and pedophiles. How wonderful to be the All-American Girl. Boys must just play a sport, and sustain injuries before they have completed their growth - which will cause them to carry health issues requiring multiple surgeries over the rest of their lives... Meanwhile, call Merck & friends again - sooner or later - they'll get you all...

    Molecules launch from our final breath - to be owned by the next living soul who inhales them...

    Words of wisdom from Texas!! Wow! (8.50 / 2)
    Dear Keechi . . .

    Words straight from Texas.  Your assessment seems valid to me!!!  Just this morning Cable News Network spoke of the number and severity of injuries, with thanks to childhood games, infinitely encouraged by competitive parents!

    Oh, how I long for a world where money and perceived accomplishments are not the motives for all actions.

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. ~ Ian Anderson. Jethro Tull

    Betsy L. Angert

    BeThink


    [ Parent ]
    Gardasil--Merck vaccine (10.67 / 3)
    The fact that Merck's vaccine protects against only 70 percent of the viruses that cause cervical cancer is key.

    Pap smears, by contrast, can detect nearly 100% of cervical cancers. This is why Merck itself acknowledges that girls who receive the vaccine still need to have regular Pap smears.

    But given all of the hype about Gardasil there is a real danger that girls who receive the vaccine will think that they are now "safe" and don't need Pap smears. Last weekend NBC news interviewed a young girl in Texas who expressed relief that she had been vaccinated: "Now this is one cancer I don't have to worry about fighting." No one corrected her.

    Merck has been pushing Gardasil and pushing hard--enlisting of help of organizations like Planned Parenthood (which receives large contributions from Merck) because the company desperately needs a new blockbuster drug. After being forced to withdraw Vioxx from the market Merck is financially strapped. See the Wall Street Journal's stories about the vaccine--the Journal makes it clear that this is a busines story.

    If Merck were primarily concerned with saving lives, it would make this vaccine available--at an affordable price--in the emerging world, where Pap smears are not readily available. Instead, it is charging $360, making Gardasil the most expensive vaccine ever manufactured.

    Posted by: Maggie Mahar | Feb 10, 2007 10:46:29 AM


    Where is the outrage? (9.00 / 1)
    Maggie:

    I value the clear and concise information you shared.

    It helps me understand both the dangers of this practice and the motivation of Merck.

    What I do not grok is the quiet way this seems to be accepted.

    This seems to me to be another example of a huge company with almost limitless resources rigging the deck so they win and we all lose. I realize there are benefits to this drug. But as Stickdog pointed out in two previous comments on this site, the small benefits do not justify the costs or the uncharted risks for young girls.

    As you wrote

    If Merck were primarily concerned with saving lives, it would make this vaccine available--at an affordable price--in the emerging world, where Pap smears are not readily available. Instead, it is charging $360, making Gardasil the most expensive vaccine ever manufactured.
    Merck is obviously not concerned with saving lives nor is Texas Governor Rick Perry.

    Can you direct me to any information in medical and/or print media, which questions the wisdom of this path?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Thou art god
    Bob


    [ Parent ]
    Update Upon Reflection (0.00 / 0)
    Dear All . . .

    As I reflect on Cervical Cancer and Gardasil, I realize reasons for my newfound cynicism.  While reading the most recent report, stating "1 in 4 U.S. women infected with cervical cancer virus," I again look for the link between the study and Merck.

    Perhaps we need to postulate.  If prescribing Gardasil was an altruistic action, if the  diagnosis were rampant, and the need to address it dire, might the immunization to be delivered at a reasonable cost?  I surmise Merck would not be lobbying as extensively as they are if this drug was truly a philanthropic treatment.  Longitudinal studies might serve us well. 

    I am reminded of Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic estrogen.  You may recall this drug was developed and widely prescribed to prevent miscarriages beginning in 1938.  Currently, we know the effects of this drug.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions DES daughters.  Perchance, DES increases the risk of cervical cancer.  Now Gardasil will partially protect those infected.  I think this logic is skewed.

    The cost of the Gardasil series is a serious concern although not my greatest worry.  If I had faith in the treatment, I think I would be willing to pay the price.  However, particularly for the young, I think the price is outrageous.  The profits made on a drug that I feel is not well tested, coupled with the extent of the lobbying adds to my skepticism.  That Merck has decided to forego their far-reaching campaign does not quell my fears.

  • "1 in 4 U.S. women infected with cervical cancer virus,"  Cable News Network.  February 27, 2007
  • About DES.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Merck to Stop Pushing to Require Shots, By Amy Gardner.  Washington Post. Wednesday, February 21, 2007; Page B10

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are. ~ Ian Anderson. Jethro Tull

    Betsy L. Angert

    BeThink


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