Following the Money

From the Telegraph.

The only government-approved vaccine for HPV is Merck’s Gardasil. Balfour received a $500 campaign contribution from the Delaware-based pharmaceutical company in September, according to campaign disclosure reports.

I’m sure when you start digging you’ll find that it’s more than that.

But, frankly, this idiocy is not helpful:

Carolyn Garcia of the Georgia chapter of Americans United for Life said the bill might encourage promiscuity.

“It comes from behavior,” Garcia said of the virus. “It’s a moral issue.”

We should also then ban short skirts and lollipops because they probably have a greater chance of encouraging promiscuity than an HPV shot.

No, the real reasons to oppose the shots are that the drug is controlled by a monopoly vendor, which has been lobbying for the drug via campaign donations and this mandate flies in the face of years of national protocols on required immunizations. Likewise, there are questions still over the long term benefits of the drug, the testing protocols employed to test the drug, etc.

Can’t the right to lifers, of which I consider myself part of the group, come up with better talking points for their self-designated leaders?


  1. I’m not as upset about this as Erick, but I appreciate that he has differentiated himself from the non-serious objectors.

    One area I would disagree with on here is the libertarians who say this is different from other vaccination scenarios because usually the state only steps in to protect others. Seeing as the vast majority of women end up with this virus (and men too strictly as carriers) I think something like this isn’t just a personal protection, similar to a traditional vaccination.

    I probably won’t get the flu, and I almost certainly won’t die from it if I do, but I should get a flu shot (not that I always do) to take one more person out of the strand’s circulation, so it is that much harder for someone who could die from it to get it.

    Ultimately though, I believe the vast majority of the next generation will take advantage of this (or a competing) vaccine, which should lesson the impact even in those people who are too wrongheaded to take advantage of something like this.

    But I have to wonder if this is a preview of what could be to come if we ever develop a vaccine for AIDS or some other (usually) sexually transmitted disease. The strict difference though would be that AIDS is so well known (compared to HPV) that it probably won’t take a campaign contribution or a state program for most of the world to rush out and get that shot.

  2. Erick says:

    Chris, thanks and I would intend to have my child get this vaccine at the appropriate age.

    The problems, though, are numerous, including the testing protocols used. We’re talking about 6th graders and there are still a lot of unknowns about this drug.

  3. grabbingsand says:

    Merck is spending money to make money. No surprise there. But I still believe that the benefits from this vaccine go far to outweigh the profit-minded mechanics beneath. For one thing, parents could avoid a very awkward conversation later on in their child’s adult life, should that child receive a cancer diagnosis stemming from HPV.

    But if we pull back a bit, this is really a trial run, a way to see how we all react. Because if an HPV vaccine is controversy enough to merit this much debate, can you even imagine the boiling roil that will spin out of a discovered AIDS vaccine?

  4. And has it occured to anyone that for $500 Merck is getting a ton of free publicity for their product?

    Let’s make an incorrect assumption that the virus costs $1. Merck just spent $500 to get the billed introduced, get the free media coverage, and now even if the state doesn’t pass this law (and all indications are that it might just do that) they will only need 500 extra customers to have made it worth it.

  5. NancyHart says:

    FYI: GlaxoSmithKline has a new HPV vaccine called Cervarix that should be on the market by the end of the year. It would be interesting to see if GSK has given any money, and whether the bill specifies a particular vaccine. As far as I know, these are the only two drug companies who’ve gotten into HPV vaccines. It will probably be 5-7 years before any other HPV vaccine comes on the market due to the length of clinical trials.
    And for those who want to know the difference between the vaccines, Cervarix protects only from the 2 most common strains that cause cervical cancer. Gardisil protects against the same two, as well as the two most common causes of genital warts.

  6. Bull Moose says:

    Again, apologies for my comments earlier.

    I remember hearing about this when it was in clinical trials and the jubilation that many felt at hearing that a vaccine for a form of cancer was on the way to being a reality.

    Yes, 6th grade is an early age to start worrying about sexual matters as they relate to children, but unfortunately, there are those out there who begin that early.

    I don’t really see this type of vaccination as an overburdened mandate from the state, but rather as a preventive step in the vain of wellness.

    It’s hard for me to discuss vaccination issues and cancer issues in general without getting emotional about them because of my personal history with the disease, but I do see this in terms of a step forward in the fight against cancer.

  7. Bull Moose says:

    I don’t really see this as an issue of money and campaign politics, but rather in terms of health. I don’t think that’s at play here at all.

    Personally, if I had a daughter, I’d want her to be vaccinated at the appropriate age decided by between her mother and I. I would also want that vaccination to be covered by our insurance.

    Some parents are not capable of or refuse to discuss sexual issues with their children. Should others pay such a price for their failure?

  8. Josh D Ondich says:

    It is not the job of the state to make sure everyone’s children are vaccinated with every vaccination on the market. It is the job of the doctor’s office and the parents to make sure their kids have the proper vacinations. In this case I hope parents teach their children about sex. In what is right in doing and what is wrong when engaging in a intimate relationship. the proper sex education is not vaccination, but abstence. I also believe this vaccination encourages children to think their immune, so they go out have open marriage or multiple intimate relationships at a time. I do not support this vaccination bill one bit and never will.

  9. NancyHart says:

    Josh –
    Do you also oppose mandatory Hepatitis B vaccines? That disease is spread mainly by sexual contact and illicit drug use. I’ve never heard anyone complain that Hep B vaccines teach kids that they are safe to have sex and do drugs.

  10. buzzbrockway says:

    I would hope it would take a lot more than $500 to buy off Sen. Balfour.

    Look I’m not in favor of this bill simply because I don’t like the government mandating stuff like this, however, I don’t think Balfour is doing this because of a small campaign donation.

    Balfour is in a safe Republican district, hasn’t had serious opposition in years and doesn’t need the money. Perhaps he’s doing this because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.

  11. Bull Moose says:

    I don’t think anyone was being “bought off”.

    I didn’t know that Erick’s wife had an ordeal with cancer. Had I known, I certainly wouldn’t have said what I said the way I said it.

    This vaccine was tested for 4 years. I do not think that to begin using it is subjecting young ladies to being like “lab rats”.

    I think it’s unfortunate that I was revoked from the front page for a misunderstanding that could have been easily cleared up through personal channels.

  12. Bull Moose says:

    All of us know that there are parents out there who are ignorant and too immature to be parents in the first place. They are not capable of having participating in their childs education, let alone engaging them about the dangers of sexual relationships.

    Do not make an innocent child pay the price of the risk of this type of cancer for the ignorance of their parent.

    I’m having a very hard time understanding why some would be against this vaccination. In turn, I will likely find that there are going to be some Republicans on this issue who are on the opposite side as me. I wish I had the chance to understand their position.

    Is it a politically convenient position or is their position one of convictions?

  13. Blah says:

    it is silly to mandate a drug that has not be tested fully- sure the argument will be that children are routinely forced to take various shots, but each one of them had first been opt in rather then mandated-

    Besides, the “cure” only protects against 4 of the 97 known HPV viruses- not very prudent to force every girl above the age of 11 when only it protects less then 10 percent of the virus

  14. Joy says:

    Why 12? If the vaccine is only good for 5-6 years, then it’s no longer effective just as they are leaving the protection of the state & school system requirements. Will a booster shot as HS graduation requirement be next? Why doesn’t the Georgia legislature require that a new vaccination be given during drivers license renewals? We can just up the cost of renewals to cover the costs. Surely, all the men, and the women considered “too old” for the vaccine, won’t mind paying a portion to protect all the young women for generations to come.

  15. DougieFresh says:


    You said …

    “Do not make an innocent child pay the price of the risk of this type of cancer for the ignorance of their parent. ”

    Where, then, do we draw the line? Diet and excercise is infinitely more important to long term health than this virus. Even getting protected from this one virus does not guarentee that you will not get cervical cancer.

    You are obviously not aware that the biggest killer of children are accidents. In the USA, 3,670 women die of cervical cancer each year, almost none of which are children.

    On the other hand, 400,000 people die a year due to poor diet and inactivity, 43,000 die in auto accidents, 20,000 die due to sexual behavior, yet, I have not heard you once claim that we need to teach children to not drive, eat only healthy foods or avoid sex.

    When we break down the leading cause of death among the young (the above numbers were for the general population, as that’s what the cervical cancer deaths were for), we find that about 20,000 die in accidents, of which 10,000 are automobile related, and only a reletively small 3,200 die of Malignant Neoplasms (Cancer). Of that, most are cases of Lymphoma and Leukemia. If this is about protecting innocent children from evil meenie “ignorant” parents, why are 16 year olds allowed to drive?

    So, the question is, where do we draw the line? How much are you willing to cede to the government to insure absolutely no child “suffers” at the hands of “ignorant” parents?

    It is a testimant to how good the times we live in are when this is the best thing the hysterical Chicken Little’s of the world can complain about.

  16. DougieFresh says:


    You said “Do not make an innocent child pay the price of the risk of this type of cancer for the ignorance of their parent.”

    So where do we draw the line? Only about 3,200 women die of cervical cancer a year, only a fraction of which would be prevented by the HPV vaccine, almost none of which are children.

    On the other hand, 20,000 children in the USA die every year of accidents, 50% of which are auto-mobile related, and a good number of the remainder are drowning victims. So, then, you are obviously in favor of not allowing children to drive at 16, or not allowing children to ride in automobiles?

    400,000 people in the USA a year die of diet and exercise related ailments. Are you going to propose that the government publish a menu that all parents must follow when feeding their children?

    20,000 people die of sex related illness, a number that is 6 times the number of those that die from cervical cancer. Are you then telling us that everyone should be required to abstain from sex?

    How far does your plan for government intervention go? Or is it simply an emotion issue that you make up the limits and rules as you go along?

  17. Decaturguy says:

    Balfour is in a safe Republican district, hasn’t had serious opposition in years and doesn’t need the money.

    He may be in a safe Republican district, but he’s about guaranteed himself that he will not be in a “safe” Republican primary next year, don’t you think?

  18. buzzbrockway says:

    I’m not so sure DG. I’d like to see some polling on this. Despite my views, I wouldn’t be surprised if the public supports this. After all, it’s “for the children.”

  19. Bill Simon says:

    I’ve looked through all of Balfour’s 2006 disclosures. He only received $500 from Merck. And, I looked through the lobbyists’ disclosures for 2006 as well. Nothing spent on Balfour from Merck.

    Now…what I don’t know is how much Merck possibly gave to Balfour during the first week in January, before the Session started; that disclosure isn’t due until 6/30/2007, I think.

  20. elephantgirl says:

    I would be willing to bet you could find alot of other companies that contributed to Balfour that are getting nothing this session. First of all Balfour is not the type to be bought off, and second of all Merck should be embarassed that is all they gave the rules chairman if this is a pay off. I get so tired of hearing people talk about campaign contributions as pay offs.

  21. Blah says:

    Some people are too ignorant- look at the insurance money that he will be getting- these are the people that will be saving huge amounts when this passes- sure there will be plenty of upfront costs (3 shots @ $120 a piece)- but the backend they will save plenty

  22. Bull Moose says:

    I find it hard to not laugh when you talk about “only” saving 3200 lives a year.

    This has been tested for 4 years. The FDA cleared it.

    We are talking about a vaccine that will all but eliminate cervical cancer.

    Are we seriously having this petty of a conversation on the merits of it?

  23. BB says:


    Troutman Sanders gave Balfour $1000 6/28 — they lobby on behalf of Merck:

    Comm. To Re-elect Balfour
    Donald Kenneth Balfour II
    Troutman Sanders Georgia PAC
    600 Peachtree ST.
    Atlanta, GA 30308-3030

    Monetary $1,000.00 $0.00

    Lobbyists at TS Public Affairs Group listed as Merck reps — Pete Robinson, CEO; Stephanie Carter, Robb Willis and Shiela Humberstone.

    Additionally, Craig Hansen from FL is shown as a lobbyist for Merck.

    Merck suspended all Gardasil related lobbying a few weeks ago, but prior to that, they apparently spent a bunch nationwide trying to get this mandate in place before GSK comes to market.

  24. DougieFresh says:


    So nice of you to ignore everything posted and create a straw man. So you are then in favor of taking away licenses for children who are 16 or 17, as well as enforcing a very strict diet and excercise regimen to prevent heart disease. Or do you not care about “THE CHILDREN”!

    I can see why you run away from answering actual questions. Your arguments are emotional nonsense.

  25. Ben Marshall says:

    The fact that it is controlled by a “monopoly vendor” as you put it Erick, is a terrible reason to be opposed to something. Exactly why should Merck not have the right to this? Like all drug companies, they spend the time and money on research of medicines, and when one is successful they get the right to the patents.

    If you’re against this, then you are against the incentive that drives the creation of such breakthrough drugs. And if you dislike this, then you should be opposed to all drugs while under the control of one company that has the patents to it.

    It’s really a terrible point of argument.

  26. Nicki says:

    Diet and excercise is infinitely more important to long term health than this virus.

    A) Not if you’re female and b) diet and exercise cannot be made right with a vaccine.

  27. Bill Simon says:


    Nice research. Want to start raising some hell at the Ethics Commission regarding TS possibly hiding contributions from one of their clients?

    The Complaint would just about write itself.

  28. Bull Moose says:

    Ask a question and I’ll respond.

    Just so you know, Erick never replied to me. So much for sincerity.

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