Facts on HPV and Merck

Cato @ Liberty has some facts on the HPV vaccination:

The lure of government mandates has turned Merck, if it wasn’t already, into an unethical company. In principle, I have nothing against Merck publicizing its products and their benefits. But Merck has exaggerated the benefits of its Gardasil vaccine and has shamelessly lobbied lawmakers to make a vaccine of questionable benefit mandatory.

At $360, the Gardasil vaccine against four types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most expensive vaccines on the market. On June 8th of last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gardasil for use in girls age nine to 26.

It is important to mention that technically “mandatory vaccination laws” are not “mandatory” because they all contain constitutionally required opt-out provisions. Nevertheless when lawmakers, Merck, the press and everyone else call’s such laws “mandatory,” they in effect become so because the public perception is that they are.

[…]

Merck has misrepresented the facts, or is at least standing by dumb while others misrepresented them. It is misleading to say the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer. Not all HPV viruses cause cervical cancer and, while HPV is prevalent, those types (types 16 and 18) that cause cervical cancer are not nearly as prevalent. There are 37 or more types of genital HPV. The rate of all 37 types together is high – 34% among women ages 14 to 24, but the rate for the types 16 and 18 that are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases in the U.S. – is only 1.5% and 0.8% respectively. See the Journal Watch article published today.

[…]

Merck is also clearly taking advantage of some very fallacious policy analysis. It is very difficult to do a cost benefit analysis in public health because there are so many factors, known and unknown, that come into play, but to have the debate ignore considerations that are blatantly obvious is suspect. While it is horrible that anyone should die of cervical cancer, it probably does not make sense to advocate mandatory vaccination for approximately 30,000,000 school aged girls with a brand new vaccine in order to prevent fewer than two percent of those girls from getting cervical cancer in the future.

[…]

To add insult to injury, not only has Merck left policy makers in the dark as to the myriad of possible downsides to mandatory vaccination for HPV, it has actively lobbied and paid large campaign contributions to politicians willing to support mandatory vaccination policies. According to documents obtained by The Associated Press last month, Merck donated $5000 to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on the same day Perry’s chief of staff met with the governor’s budget director and others for a “HPV vaccine for Children Briefing.”

Similar scenarios played out in at least seven other states. This seems quite a bit like bribing politicians to do something for Merck, something that will bring Merck huge profits, very possibly at the expense of the general population – or at least at the expense of little girls.

9 comments

  1. Rusty says:

    These “facts” are totally off.

    According to the National Cancer Institute:

    Both high-risk and low-risk types of HPV can cause the growth of abnormal cells, but generally only the high-risk types of HPV may lead to cancer. Sexually transmitted, high-risk HPVs include types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 69, and possibly a few others.

    There is a perfectly legitimate argument to be made against a government-mandated vaccine. You undermine that argument when you try to back it up with inaccurate information.

  2. Jason Pye says:

    Well, Rusty, perhaps you should bitch at the Cato Institute about it.

    Erick has already pointed out that the American Medical Association, American College of Pediatricians and the chairman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices are against the vaccination.

    Here is the source Cato used:

    The prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) among U.S. women is of particular interest, given the recent availability of an HPV vaccine. Government investigators used data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to study HPV prevalence in women 14 to 59 years old. Self-collected vaginal swabs were analyzed by PCR; up to 37 HPV types were identified.

    Among 1921 usable specimens, 27% were positive for HPV. The prevalence peaked at 45% in women 20 to 24 years old (34% for ages 14 to 24) and declined to 20% in women ages 50 to 59. For the four HPV types covered by the vaccine, prevalences were 1.3% for type 6, 0.1% for type 11, 1.5% for type 16, and 0.8% for type 18 (the latter two types are considered responsible for about 70% of cases of cervical cancer). HPV prevalence among women who reported never having had sex was 5%.

    Comment: Although the overall prevalence of HPV in this study is higher than previously found, the prevalence of the types covered by the new vaccine (3.4% overall) is lower than expected. This lower prevalence may change current cost-effectiveness calculations for the new vaccine, but editorialists think it “unlikely that a reanalysis would change the conclusion that universal immunization is cost-effective.” In any case, these data establish a baseline against which to measure the effect of the vaccine on future HPV prevalence.

    — Thomas L. Schwenk, MD

    Published in Journal Watch General Medicine March 8, 2007

  3. Rusty says:

    I should bitch at you for regurgitating inaccurate information. You’re like a parrot:

    Cato: “HPV doesn’t cause cervical cancer.”
    Jason: “Brrrrrrack… HPV doesn’t cause cervical cancer.”

    Cato: “Commuter rail is bad.”
    Jason: “Brrrrrrrrrrrrack… commuter rail is bad.”

    Cato: “The sky is brown and green because Bill Clinton cheated on his wife, there’s no such thing as global warming.”
    Jason: “Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrack… the sky is brown and green because Bill Clinton cheated on his wife, there’s no such thing as global warming.”

    Is there an original thought in your head?

  4. Jason Pye says:

    This coming from someone who calls him self the “Radical Georgia Moderate.” The only thing you support is taking money from one group and passing it on to others.
    Is there an original thought in your head?

    You aren’t a moderate, nor are you a radical. You are a walking talking point for big government. The only thing true about your title is that you live in Georgia.

    I am in the minority in my beliefs.

    The Cato Institute is an organization that promotes less government and more individual liberty…so naturally, I’m going to be inclined to read and support a lot of what they do and I’m not going to apologize for it.

    Maybe I should strive to be more like you, Rusty. I need to post more angry rants filled with profanity and “bullshit detectors.”

    “Rusty, the RGM, said it. OMG!!! So let it be written, so let it be done!!!”

  5. Rusty says:

    The only thing you support is taking money from one group and passing it on to others.

    [. . .]

    You are a walking talking point for big government.

    Bogeyman!!!!1! OMG!!!1!

    Keep painting people with a broad brush as if everything fits neatly into the “capitalist” or “socialist” category. You’re doing a swell job winning people over to your cause. Can we expect three percent of the vote to go the Libertarians’ way next time?

    The joke here is I am lukewarm at best to the idea of a government-mandated vaccine for HPV, even though I support people getting it generally (and on their own dime). If you’d spent some time making your case with something other than discredited information and not calling me names, maybe you could have changed my mind. And if not mine, then someone else’s.

    As it stands, you come off like a four-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. And, as a bonus, you reinforced my parrot remarks.

  6. Jason Pye says:

    As it stands, you come off like a four-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.

    Have you ever actually read what you post on your site? You are the one with the profanity laced posts.

    If you’d spent some time making your case with something other than discredited information and not calling me names…

    Ha! You are one to be talking. Remember our minimum wage debate? You can’t even read the statistics right.

    I don’t recall calling you anything, other than saying that you are for big government…and again, go back and read your site, you have no problem calling people names.

    You’re doing a swell job winning people over to your cause. Can we expect three percent of the vote to go the Libertarians’ way next time?

    We had the highest vote totals we’d ever had in many of our races in the last election.

    Keep painting people with a broad brush as if everything fits neatly into the “capitalist” or “socialist” category.

    There isn’t much gray area. You are either for less government or not.

  7. Mad Dog says:

    Jason,

    I tried to get some ‘good’ information from hard core sources on this subject.

    Honestly, I wasn’t satisfied with the data I got from any source. It could be that I’m too damn dense to understand the raw information needed to even learn something about HPV, STD, and cervical cancer.

    I’m pretty sure 4 genomes of HPV (?) have some sort of linkage with possible cancer. Another seven genomes of HPV (?) have possible linkage with possible cancer. And there are more than 37 genomes of HPV (?).

    Nah. I ain’t even sure of any of that after hours on the phone and research.

    One source said the age bracket was 19 – 24 which would have excluded 6th graders.

    I’m not even sure the word genome was ever used in the conversation. He might have been saying genital. Damn those Boston accents!

    BUT, I’m certain of one fact. The vaccine is twice as complex as the vaccine used for flu shots.

    That’s a fact. Now I’m making a leap. If I can buy the flu shot for $20, why is Merch demanding $360 for an equally dubious HPV vaccination?

    Now Rusty can go back to being insulted. I’m not sure why Rusty feels insulted. But, I get the feeling it has something to do with being smarter than everyone else. ? Especially Jason?

    So Rusty, … here’s another insult for you. “You’re smarter than me, too!”

  8. rugby_fan says:

    Jason, with all due respect, Rusty is the one who is closest to having an original thought in this debate.

    The Cato Institute has an agenda in this political debate, whereas the NCI doesn’t, really.

    Rusty is fairly moderate even if his language is spicy at times.

    And I am not sure how believing information from one source disqualifies someone as being a moderate.

  9. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Wow, who would have thought that the Cato Institute would purposely misinform?! I once attended an ALEC conference in which a Cato analyst was presenting a paper proving that Cable TV was very affordable and that it would be more expensive a la carte. Well that’s debateble, but the sad thing is that this guy claims that cable TV charges about 50 cents a channel….um, on which planet? Especailly whne most of us usually watch 10 to 15 channels regularly. Sadly, I was the only one in the room laughing out loud at the absurdity.

Comments are closed.