Issue date: 4/30/09
Section: Opinion & Editorial
Three years ago, Merck launched a $12-million marketing campaign, and cervical cancer and HPV turned into the new epidemic women needed to protect themselves against. Many of my friends have been talked into getting the vaccine by their doctors, but I refuse.
There are multiple problems regarding the Gardasil campaign: medical professionals are questioning the drug’s safety now that it may be approved for men, the drug is mandated in certain states for girls’ school admittance, it is marketed to girls at too young of an age, and not enough factual evidence is given to female patients about the vaccine.
Currently, Gardasil is the only vaccine that protects against four strands of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the highest occurring sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gardasil was approved to be administered to young women ages 9-26 in 2006.
HPV causes genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer in women, which affects 10,000 American women a year, killing about 3,700, according to a Washington Post article last month. For males, the virus causes 7,500 cases of cancer a year, with about 1,000 deaths, and causes 250,000 new cases of genital warts a year.
Merck is now trying to get Gardasil approved for boys and men. Merck performed a study testing the drug in men, in which it was proven safe. Merck will take the vaccine before the CDC later this year to get approval.
There are several arguments against men taking the vaccine though. One is the fear that the drug is not safe enough. Several medical professionals have brought up that the drug has not been around long enough to study long-term side effects. If this is the case, why are we still letting young girls and women take the drug?
In the Washington Post article, one parent said he was worried about giving the vaccine to his sons because of the safety of the drug. The father “worries that Gardasil has not been studied enough to know that it is safe and effective for his 9-year-old son.”