Cervical-cancer vaccine Gardasil still faces questions

Three years after the world’s first cervical-cancer vaccine was hailed as a public-health breakthrough, Gardasil is facing renewed questions about its safety and value.

In today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, federal researchers analyze 12,424 voluntary reports of post-vaccination “adverse events” ranging from headaches to deaths. They conclude that only two complaints – fainting and dangerous blood clots — are more common than expected and may be related to the immunization.

But an accompanying editorial points out that many questions about Gardasil remain – key among them, whether it really will reduce the toll of cervical cancer.

Another opinion piece in JAMA looks at Merck & Co.’s marketing strategy, contending the company coopted professional medical societies to promote and recommend the vaccine.

Merck – already on the defensive over Gardasil’s second-quarter sales, which slumped sharply in the United States and worldwide – said in a statement that “we welcome continued study and discussion” of the product’s safety.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.