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Merck Researcher Admits: Gardasil Guards Against Almost Nothing

Sunday, October 6, 2013 18:04
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By Joan Robinson and Steven W. Mosher 

On the morning of 2 October 2009, one of us (Joan) joined an audience of mostly health professionals and listened as Dr. Diane Harper, the leading international developer of the HPV vaccines, gave a sales pitch for Gardasil. Gardasil, as you may know, is the new vaccine that is supposed to confer protection against four strains of the sexually transmitted Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Dr. Harper came to the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination to prove to us the real benefits of Gardasil. Sadly, her own presentation left me (Joan) and others filled with doubts. By her own admission, Gardasil has the doctors surrounding me glaring at a poor promise of efficacy as a vaccine married to a high risk of life-threatening side effects.

Gardasil, Dr. Harper explained, is promoted by Merck, the pharmaceutical manufacturer, as a “safe and effective” prevention measure against cervical cancer. The theory behind the vaccine is that, as HPV may cause cervical cancer, conferring a greater immunity of some strains of HPV might reduce the incidence of this form of cancer. In pursuit of this goal, tens of millions of American girls have been vaccinated to date.

As I sat scribbling down Merck’s claims, I wondered why such mass vaccination campaigns were necessary. After all, as Dr. Harper explained, 70% of HPV infections resolve themselves without treatment in one year. After two years, this rate climbs to 90%. Of the remaining 10% of HPV infections, only half coincide with the development of cervical cancer.

Dr. Harper further undercut the case for mass vaccination campaigns in the U.S. when she pointed out that “4 out of 5 women with cervical cancer are in developing countries.” (Harper serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) for HPV vaccination in the developing world.) Indeed, she surprised her audience by stating that the incidence of cervical cancer in the U.S. is so low that “if we get the vaccine and continue PAP screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in the US.”

If this is the case, I thought, then why vaccinate at all? From the murmurs of the doctors in the audience, it was apparent that the same thought had occurred to them.

In the U.S. the cervical cancer rate is 8 per 100,000 women.1 Moreover, it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. The current death rate from cervical cancer is between 1.6 to 3.7 deaths per 100,000 women.2 The American Cancer Society (ACS) notes that “between 1955 and 1992, the cervical cancer death rate declined by 74%” and adds that “the death rate from cervical cancer continues to decline by nearly 4% each year.”3

At this point, I began to wriggle around in my seat, uncomfortably wondering, is the vaccine really effective? Using data from trials funded by Merck, Dr. Harper cheerfully continued to demolish the case for the vaccine that she was ostensibly there to promote. She informed us that “with the use of Gardasil, there will be no decrease in cervical cancer until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated, and in that case, the decrease will be very minimal. The highest amount of minimal decrease will appear in 60 years.”

It is hard to imagine a less compelling case for Gardasil. First of all, it is highly unlikely that 70% or more of the female population will continue to get routine Gardasil shots and boosters, along with annual PAP smears. And even if it did, according to Dr. Harper, “after 60 years, the vaccination will [only] have prevented 70% of incidences” of cervical cancer.

But rates of death from cervical cancer are already declining. Let’s do the math. If the 4% annual decline in cervical cancer death continues, in 60 years there will have been a 91.4% decline in cervical cancer death just from current cancer monitoring and treatment. Comparing this rate of decline to Gardasil’s projected “very minimal” reduction in the rate of cervical cancer of only 70 % of incidences in 60 years, it is hard to resist the conclusion that Gardasil does almost nothing for the health of American women.

Despite these dismal projections, Gardasil continues to be widely and aggressively promoted among pre-teen girls. The CDC reports that, by 1 June 2009, over 26 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the U.S.4 With hopes of soon tapping the adolescent male demographic, Merck, the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the vaccine, and certain Merck-funded U.S. medical organizations are targeting girls between the ages of 9 and 13.5 As CBS news reports, “Gardasil, launched in 2006 for girls and young women, quickly became one of Merck’s top-selling vaccines, thanks to aggressive marketing and attempts to get states to require girls to get the vaccine as a requirement for school attendance.”6

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Total 3 comments
  • Esther

    Why would it be necessary for any child to be vaccinated for a virus that might cause cervical cancer in order to go to school? That does not make sense!

    • Chief

      does it not, Esther?

  • Chief

    big revelation … the drug companies publish their dismal data in peer-reviewed journals for all to read

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