Friday, February 23, 2007

Less Gardasil, More Paps

One less. One less. I want to see one less advertisement pushing Merck’s new HPV vaccine Gardasil. I want to see one less public official swayed by Merck lobbyists into thinking that Gardasil vaccination should be mandated immediately.

One more. One more. I want to see one more than the currently-completed zero studies regarding the safety and efficacy of Gardasil 10, 20 or more years after immunization. I want to see one more public official do something to ensure that all women have easy access to regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.

Sorry, Merck, but I am not jumping on your Gardasil bandwagon just yet. Don’t worry, it’s not because I have turned ultra conservative and think the vaccine will cause girls to have more sex. I am every bit as surprised as you are that some people actually buy into that crap. It's not because of the whole Vioxx fiasco either, though that certainly didn't help build trust in your products.
It's just that while the Gardasil clinical trial results were quite impressive, you and I both know that clinical trials are conducted under very structured conditions that do not mimic the real world. Whether additional safety concerns will be uncovered after widespread use of the vaccine is anyone's guess at this point. Meanwhile, results from your ongoing studies to look at long-term effects of the vaccine won’t be available for years. Oh, and dare I mention that some women seem to be getting the wrong idea that Gardasil prevents cervical cancer and does away with the need for regular Pap tests? I know, I know, all your product materials clearly state that the vaccine may work against only four strains of HPV but, really, who can be bothered with the fine print in drug ads?

So, call me crazy, but for now I think I’ll stick to advocating regular old Pap tests as the best prevention against cervical cancer. Ever since the Pap test was invented, the incidence of invasive cervical cancer, as well as deaths from cervical cancer, have declined dramatically. If women worldwide had access to regular Pap tests, no doubt the numbers would drop even more. Too bad Pap tests don’t have a glitzy marketing campaign and a bunch of high-paid lobbyists like Gardasil.

To appease the lawyers: Don’t not get Gardasil just because I said so. I only pretend to know what I am talking about. Don’t get Gardasil just because Merck said so. They only pretend to care about your health and not their profits. Don't construe anything here to be the opinion of my employer just because I work for them. They only make me pretend to worship the pharmaceutical industry from 9 to 5.


Laura said...

Oh! All this sounds bloody awful! Reminds me of all the near wiping-out of diseases only to be let down at the last minute by neglect and bad advice. Here we have the added juiciness of the capitalist machine playing its hand. This could sooo be a huge backward step.

Blondie said...

I've been very suspicious of that vaccine. It's nice to see you take a whack at it. Yeah!