Merck may have abandoned its efforts to get legislatures across the country to mandate that girls receive Gardasil, the vaccine promoted as being protective against cervical cancer, but doctors have not lost their enthusiasm for the vaccine and, and many are recommending it to all of their patients. Additionally, Merck is spending a fortune on direct-to-consumer advertising for the vaccine, placing ads claiming the vaccine prevents cervical cancer on television and in national publications.
Aside from the fact that there is no evidence that the vaccine prevents cervical cancer, the reports of serious side effects from the vaccine continue to pour in.
Gardasil Side Effects
According to a recent article in The British Medical Journal*, there have been three deaths and more than 1600 adverse reaction reports made to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System during the year since Gardasil was approved. One of the deaths was due to a blood clot, and the remaining two were due to heart problems and/or blood clotting. These patients were 12 and 19 years of age.
The 1600 adverse reactions included dehydration, headaches, hyperventilation, injection site pain, muscle spasms, speech disorders, loss of consciousness, blurred vision, vomiting, central nervous system disorders, impaired tactile sensitivity, burning skin sensations, excessive protein in the urine, muscular weakness, and increased red blood cell sedimentation rate. These reports were characterized as “not serious” I suppose compared to death they aren’t. But in view of the fact that this vaccine’s usefulness is questionable at best, why would anyone knowingly take these risks, let alone subject minor children to them?
Therein lies the problem. Women are not made aware of the risks, and parents are certainly not told of the risks to their young daughters or the lack of demonstrated efficacy of the vaccine. So, please tell every young woman you know and every parent of a daughter in the targeted age range (9 years old and up) that this vaccine is not safe or effective.
*Janice Hopkins Tanne, Questions Over Human Papillomavirus Vaccine in the US and Australia, British Medical Journal June 2007 vol.334:1182-1183; doi:10.1136/bmj39237.424537.4E
Gardasil and HPV?
According to an article in the August 15 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association*, the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, which is purported to prevent cervical cancer, is not effective in treating women with infection. It is common for drug companies to look for additional applications for their drugs after approval, and Merck, the maker of the HPV vaccine, was hoping to use the drug not only as a prophylactic but as a treatment for HPV.
In this study, called the Costa Rican HPV Vaccine Trial, 7466 women were recruited to study the efficacy of the HPV-16-18 vaccine. Women between the ages of 18 and 25 were then selected based on a positive diagnosis of HPV resulting from a pelvic exam or blood test. 1088 women were then randomized to receive the HPV vaccine in 3 doses, while 1101 women received a control hepatitis vaccine. After 6 months, the women performed a self-collected Dacron swab for exfoliated cervical cells. At 12 months, a pelvic examination was given again and more cervical cells collected for evaluation, and blood was tested for HPV antibodies.
At both the 6-month and 12-month visit, there was no difference in the viral clearance between the two groups, and no effects of the vaccination on the extent of the disease including HPV antibody status, abnormal cervical cytologic results and viral load. The authors concluded that the HPV vaccine should not be used to treat HPV infections.
Not only is the HPV vaccine useless it is designed to prevent infection from only 4 of the 100 strains of HPV, but HPV clears itself or is not harmful most of the time, and is not the principal cause of cervical cancer. But it is now determined to not be effective for treatment for HPV either. Too bad the scientists at Merck can’t occupy themselves doing something truly beneficial in the medical field!
*Hildesheim, Allan, et al, Effect of Human Papillomavirus 16/18 L1 Viruslike Particle Vaccine Among Young Women with Preexisting Infection: A Randomized Trial, JAMA 2007:743-753