An article published in The New York Times titled “Drug Makers’ Push Leads to Vaccines’ Fast Rise” by Elisabeth Rosenthal (August 20, 2008), reports how Merck co-opted doctors, nurses, professional medical associations and legislators by offering handsome rewards for promoting their product which was approved with lightening speed by the CDC. “Gardasil took six months from application to approval …. Most vaccines take three years to get that sort of endorsement… and then 5 to 10 more for universal acceptance.”
The chairman of the committee of the CDC that recommended the vaccine for all girls between 11 and 26 years, Dr.Jon Abramson, is quoted as saying with regard to licensing and endorsing Gardasil:
“There was incredible pressure from industry and politics.”
Former principal investigator for pre-licensure clinical trials of Gardasil and Cervarix, Dr. Diane Harper is also quoted as saying:
“Merck lobbied every opinion leader, women’s group, medical society, politicians, and went directly to the people – it created a sense of panic that says you have to have this vaccine now.”
Aside from Washington, D.C., the only state to mandate vaccination for school entry is Virginia. It also so happens that Merck has a Gardasil plant in Elkton, VA in which they invested $57 million in 2006. Then six months later, after Governor Tim Kane signed legislation requiring Gardasil for schoolgirls, Merck invested $193 more in the plant. Click on the link below to access this article:
Merck’s marketing with the now infamous “Be One Less” campaign won the top advertising award for creating a market out of thin air. Gardasil became one of Merck’s best sellers with about $1.5 billion in sales annually outside of Europe. Merck takes the profit, but at whose expense? Consumers are inadequately informed of the need for the vaccine, of the risks involved and safety issues are inadequately addressed. In addition, valuable financial resources are diverted from more pressing needs and more worthy applications.
Four medical professionals who wrote articles critical of the marketing of Gardasil cite conflicts of interest, and questions of ethics and safety. Articles by Dr.Sheila Rothman and Dr. David Rothman and by Dr.Charlotte Haug were published in the same issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association as the CDC/FDA safety surveillance report on Gardasil. Dr.Diane Harper’s ABC commentary on this report, posted on a previous page, was also critical. Excerpts from these reports are given below.
“Did professional medical associations (PMA) that received funding from the company provide members with unbiased educational materials and balanced recommendations? Did the PMA’s ensure that marketing strategies did not compromise clinical recommendations?”
“By making the vaccine’s target disease cervical cancer, the sexual transmission of HPV was minimized, the threat of cervical cancer to adolescents was maximized, and the sub-populations most at risk practically ignored.”
Quotes from: S. Rothman and D. Rothman. Marketing HPV Vaccine. Journal of the American Medical Association,302 (7): 781-786, August 19,2009.
“The educational programs strongly promoting HPV vaccination began in 2006, more than a year before the trials with clinically important end points were published. How could anyone be so certain about the effect of the vaccine?”
Quoted from: C. Haug. The Risks and Benefits of HPV Vaccination. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302 (7): 795-796, August 19, 2009.
“The marketing of Gardasil was much too aggressive. The ‘One Less’ campaign was deceptive.”
Quote from Dr. Diane Harper in the New York Times article cited above.