Gardasil, the controversial cervical cancer vaccine that is heavily marketed to young girls and women through schools, government agencies, media and physicians, is again coming under scrutiny amid thousands of complaints linking it to health problems, CNN reported today.
The vaccine has been the subject of 7,802 "adverse event" reports, including 18 deaths and two law suits, from the time the Food and Drug Administration approved its use two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When Gardasil first came out in 2006, I wrote two blogs questioning its credibility and its safety.
Sadly, my concerns are all too real.
Merck estimates more than eight million girls and young women in the U.S. have now received the vaccine, thanks to an extraordinary marketing blitz in which the company pressured state governments to make its use mandatory for school attendance.
Merck claims Gardasil prevents cancer caused by a few strains of the human papilloma virus, known as HPV -- a sexually transmitted virus, as common as the common cold that may cause cervical cancer in a relatively small percentage of infected women.
When asked about the adverse reactions and deaths, Merck insists there is no clear connection.
This response reminds me of the analogy to Thalidomide in the 1960s when babies born with flippers instead of limbs were also not considered proof of the connection between pregnant women taking thalidomide before giving birth to these poor babies.
The situation also reminds me of a 24 year old woman in my practice who got breast cancer after being on BC pills for 8 years. When I called the manufacturer of the BC pills to report the incident, the medical director bluntly told me I could not make the connection thus he would not take the report.
Finally, a glimpse at the FDA records on HPV vaccine clearly states that the evaluation of the vaccine's efficacy and safety will not be completed until September 30, 2009. So why have 8 million of our daughters been immunized and what is waiting for their babies when they become mothers?
Time has come to take care of the patient not the bottom line.
We need to make sure our voices are heard and we protect our daughters by not following blindly the marketing policies of a drug company out to make money off our fears or by being intimidated by doctors who get their information from the drug reps at their doorstep.
Circulate this Blog and let everyone know they need more information and less manipulation.