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Biotech Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Merck To Halt Lobbying For Vaccine 544

theodp writes "Reacting to a furor from some parents, advocacy groups, and public health experts, Merck said yesterday that it would stop lobbying state legislatures to require the use of its new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, which acts against strains of the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus. The $400, 3-shot regimen was approved by the FDA in June. Later that month, a federal advisory panel recommended that females 11-26 years old be vaccinated. The governor of Texas has already signed an executive order making its use mandatory for schoolgirls."
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Merck To Halt Lobbying For Vaccine

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  • by WebHostingGuy ( 825421 ) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:16AM (#18139780) Homepage Journal
    To put it in perspective Rick Perry had $24 million in contributions the same year Merck gave him $6,000. [] If you really think he was motivated by such a small donation you haven't seen what it takes to get things done in government.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dr. Spork ( 142693 )
      I'm no big fan of Merck the company, but this is one case where I'm totally behind them. This is an incredibly effective vaccine. As far as they can tell, it might be 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer, and has many other good effects on health. By any accounting, the costs of vaccination far outweighs the cost of treatment, not to mention the cost in quality of life. Cancer sucks, and HPV even when it doesn't lead to cancer is a bad thing. It has a lot to do with various genital warts and contrib
      • by Jhon ( 241832 ) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:50AM (#18140494) Homepage Journal
        Just wondering? How could it possibly be 100% effecting in preventing cervical cancer when only 3 or 4 strains of HPV are targeted by the vaccine? And around 20% of cervical cancers are unrelated to HPV exposure?

        Do they sprinkle the vaccine with magic faerie dust?
      • by nietsch ( 112711 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:51AM (#18142654) Homepage Journal
        If you only vaccinate half of the population, you are sure to never wipe out the virus. So there will always be demand for this $400 shot until the patent expires and Merck patents a vaccine that covers those 4 virusses and 4 new ones.
        I wonder if this is what Merck intended when they were lobbying for it. It wouold be much more cost effective if a) the vaccine was sold at the true marginal cost and b) the gouvernment would vaccinate everybody under 40. The coverage woould be so much wider that those few percent religio-fanatics that object to it would not matter too much.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Onan ( 25162 )

          Well, that's true in the case of casually-communicated diseases, which jump from host to host indiscriminately.

          But HPV basically requires sexual contact in order to be transmitted. Vaccinating all women would isolate the disease to a few populations among gay men (for whom the virus is much less risky) and transmission from bisexual men to women (which would be relatively rare).

          I'm not saying that men shouldn't be vaccinated as well, just that it might be jumping the gun a bit to suggest that Merck was inte
    • I haven't seen it mentioned yet in this thread, but I think it's important to note that in addition to giving near 100% protection against 2 strains of HPV responsible for ~75% of all cervical cancers, this vaccine also gives near 100% protection for 2 additional strains of HPV responsible for approximately 90% of all cases of genital warts. So there's a reason for guys to get vaccinated too, although if you're a guy in the US, good luck finding someplace willing to vaccinate you.

      A few more interesting

  • by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:19AM (#18139814)
    Seriously, what goes through the minds of these people? That the risk of getting HPV and cervical cancer is currently stopping teenage girls from having sex? How stupidly selfish do you have to be to not want more women to be vaccinated against HPV?
    • I have to plug the Yellow Umbrella Tour [] for promoting awareness of these issues. Great people, great music: Kaki King, Duncan Sheik, David Poe, Sarah Bettens, Ben Folds, etc. There should be another this summer/fall.
    • by JimMcc ( 31079 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:33AM (#18139940) Homepage
      Yes... but...

      Do we really know for sure that the vaccine is safe? Yes, they've tested it. But there have been medicines before that have been tested and found "safe", only to be pulled from the market after their release.

      At this early stage I think, and this is just my $0.02, that it should be readily available, and that the public should be educated about the benefits and risks, so that they can make up their own minds. After there is a proven track record, then consider making it mandatory.

      Can you imagine the social impact if the drug were required for all school age girls, then a few years later they find out that there is a devastating long term effect that hadn't been discovered, or worse, had been discovered but was suppressed in the name of profit?

      I think we should tread lightly when we consider forcing the public to take a newly released drug.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nasarius ( 593729 )
        See, that's a reasonable point. That's what should be reported and considered, not the "moral" objections of a batshit-crazy minority.

        But the FDA generally does a good job of erring on the side of caution, to the point where other crazy people will accuse them of causing deaths by not approving a treatment faster. And given the prevalence of HPV (see the well-cited Wikipedia article, or any other reliable source) and its obvious dangers, vaccination makes sense as public health policy.
      • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:13AM (#18140262) Homepage Journal
        It's interesting that this perfectly reasonable objection seems to only be used as a rationalization for other, borderline-bizarre, "moral" objections. I could almost get behind this one, but most of the people questioning the safety of the drug really aren't interested in its safety per se, and wouldn't ever be satisfied by any amount of evidence as to its efficacy, because they're just using it as a sham argument.

        I'm not saying you are, but as I've been following the progress of this issue, it's seemed to progress something like this:

        1) Religious-right insists that anything which might make sex 'safer' is a tool of Satan, and has no purpose besides corrupting their little darlings.
        2) Basically everyone else raises eyebrows, questions their sanity.
        3) Religious-right folks have a powwow, try to think up rational justification for #1. Failing that, they find a totally different, seemingly rational justification for their position, but which has nothing to do with their actual motives.
        4) Everyone else spends a whole lot of time and effort responding to the seemingly rational objection from #3, but are just wasting their time, because the real objection is not rational or practical. It's entirely religious (and somewhat Freudian).

        So, in short, you have a good point, but it's going to be an uphill battle to get anyone to take it seriously.
        • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @02:49AM (#18140876)
          I'm content just pointing out that they're lying as to the reasons for the objections. Same goes for prostitution, condoms, sex ed, birth control pills/patches, and so on. The religious right is motivated solely by not wanting to "encourage sin," and they don't care that communities/states that follow their ideology have a higher teen pregnancy and STD rate. Fine, that's their priority, and I can't criticize someone for thinking that sin is a more dire concern than cancer. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, even one that I consider to be medieval, vicious, irresponsible, immoral, ignorant, and stupid.

          But I can fault them for lying and pretending that they're motivated by a concern for health, instead of just coming out and moralizing to me like they want to. It works for me to point out that they're lying about their motivation and lying about health information, yet expecting me to trust them, admitted, proven liars, on moral issues. That usually shuts them up, and that's good enough. I realize they just go peddle their vicious lies to someone else, but sometimes being away from the loony is the best I can hope for. In a perfect world they'd realize "hey, my ideology has turned me into a shameless liar, and since integrity is important, maybe I should rethink this," but I don't think that happens very often.

          • by boingo82 ( 932244 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @03:19AM (#18141070) Homepage
            Uh, I'm a member of the anti-religious left, pro-premarital sex, pro-gay, etc.

            And I STILL think it's a terrible idea to make such a new vaccine mandatory.
            Call me nuts, but I cannot trust something so new, where side effects are unknown, and I can't trust Merpk to have my or my children's best interests at heart.

            I think it's GREAT that this vaccine is available, but it should NOT be mandatory.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ptbarnett ( 159784 )
              I think it's GREAT that this vaccine is available, but it should NOT be mandatory.

              Despite the inflammatory name on the link to the blog article, it isn't mandatory. Even the article contradicts itself in the first paragraph:

              On Saturday, February 3, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order to make the newly-released human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil mandatory for all young girls before entry into the sixth grade. Starting in the 2008-2009 school year, the new bill would allow pare

    • by Jhon ( 241832 ) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:55AM (#18140136) Homepage Journal

      How stupidly selfish do you have to be to not want more women to be vaccinated against HPV?
      I believe you are misrepresenting the argument against mandatory vaccination.

      I don't think ANY reasonable person is against vaccination -- just against MANDATORY vaccination.

      You may want to look at this [].

      Perhaps after more studies there'll be a more compelling reason, say after results of the phase II or phase III studies, but I can still see huge arguments against based on economic reasons. It's a hell of a lot cheaper to make paps available to under served women than it is to vaccinate every woman aged 11-26 -- then every 11 year old every year...
      • The commonly made argument against mandatory vaccination is that it supposedly undermines the abstinence education that some parents prefer, but I haven't heard of anything that suggests that behavior is altered because of a vaccine. From what I hear, the Hepatitis B vaccine hasn't increased risky behavior.

        I have not heard of an economic reason before. I don't know what the costs of the alternative tests are, or of the treatments should treatment be found needed. I have heard that the current pap tests a
      • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <sorceror171 @ g m> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:55AM (#18142434) Homepage

        It's a hell of a lot cheaper to make paps available to under served women than it is to vaccinate every woman aged 11-26 -- then every 11 year old every year...

        Volume might reduce prices, and affect the economics, of course. I didn't see anything in that article (I admit I skimmed it) that discussed the expense of treating cervical cancer. It's rare, yes, but that's still a few thousand women every year (and many of them die), and I never heard that treating cancer was cheap.

        But imagine someone came up with a vaccine for tooth decay [], and we'll assume it was expensive, too. Would you argue that it's cheaper to provide (assumed less effective) dentistry to 'underserved' kids and adults? (Oh, and you didn't advance the 'moral' argument, but this analogy makes plain how stupid it is. How many people would argue seriously against a 'dental caries' vaccine because you can avoid tooth decay by good behavior, and it might encourage kids to eat more sweets leading to more obesity?)

    • Then why not spend the money educating the general population instead of what looks like bribing a government which then forces its decision on everyone? I want to make my own decisions about my and my families healthcare because I think I can do a better job than them. Even if this is a very sensible vaccine it should never be forced on someone.
  • Gimme a break (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:28AM (#18139888) Homepage

    These companies shouldn't even be allowed to contribute $1. As a matter of fact, government figures shouldn't be allowed to receive any money from any businesses. The sole reason that a business would contribute money to a politician is to get some favors. That is the bottom line. This story stinks and stinks real bad.

    gasmonso []
    • by sokoban ( 142301 )
      Eh, there are really two things about this story that stink.

      1. Cervical Cancer
      It's the second most prevalent cancer in women worldwide, and the 8th most common in the USA.

      2. How expensive this vaccine is.
      $400 is a lot of money to most people.

      What would be interesting to see is if it would be less expensive for insurance companies (or medicare/medicaid) to pay for all covered women without current HPV infections to have the vaccine or to treat cancer as it happens.
    • Re:Gimme a break (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kaan ( 88626 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:47AM (#18140052)
      Yeah, the whole story stinks quite bad.

      I live in Austin, Texas, and basically people have been going apeshit for a week or two. Without any law, concerned parents already have the means to give this shot to their daughters (just ask your doctor). So why make it a legal issue?

      This has been in the local news quite a bit recently, and I recall hearing various bits on the radio, such as: Rick Perry's brother works for Merck, Perry had large sums of money transferred into his account by Merck within days of announcing this law, and Perry usually doesn't take a stand for anything at all so it's extremely odd that he's pushing something as wide-sweeping as requiring all girls 11+ years old to get a shot. In the press, Perry keeps saying things like, "I want to do whatever I can to protect life", etc.
      • This story freaks the hell out of me. I understand that there are necessary vaccines like polio and the like, but this appears to be solely driven by big business for the sole purpose of profiting. This is a step in the wrong direction to say the least and I hope you guys really drive that point home in Texas to send a message that we won't stand for this shit.

        gasmonso []
      • by WebHostingGuy ( 825421 ) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:24AM (#18140340) Homepage Journal
        By mandating in Texas it allows low-income families to get the vaccine without insurance. And by mandating the vaccine it forces insurance companies to pay for it so your out of pocket cost is now lower.

        And if someone doesn't want to get vaccinated they can opt out.

        p.s. The large sum of money was $6,000 out of the $24 "million" of his campaign contributions. And there is bills in 20 other states which are going to require girls to get the vaccine. And if his brother worked for Merck why isn't is printed in all the news articles? That would be great at selling more papers.
      • Re:Gimme a break (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ibanez ( 37490 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:36AM (#18140404)
        To provide another perspective, I live in Austin as well, and no one I know is "going apeshit." They think it's a great idea.

        But I completely see your logic...why make it a legal issue? Why should we require kids to get ANY vaccinations? We should just make them all optional. What kind of dumb person would want to eradicate something that causes cancer? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Fuck vaccines, yay diseases!
      • Re:Gimme a break (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:43AM (#18140450) Journal

        Without any law, concerned parents already have the means to give this shot to their daughters (just ask your doctor). So why make it a legal issue?
        Merck (and the various Federal Agencies that deal with health issues) hve done studies which conclude that if you don't require it by law, you won't get high enough vaccination rates. That conclusion is old news in public health circles and applies to all the *mandatory vaccinnes

        You can't really eradicate a disease through a program of voluntary vaccination.

        *As an aside, you may have heard that this vaccine will be voluntary, blah blah blah. That's because the Federal Law has an exemption such that your child does not have to be vaccinated against anything to attend school, as long as you claim it goes against your religious (defined as moral or ethical) beliefs. Legally, you don't have to go into any further details to get an exemption. Just put it in writing & send it to the school.
  • by mikesd81 ( 518581 )
    I spend the latter half of my teen years living at a Christian Retreat center. From those years I've come to the conclusion that Christian's can tend to overreact. No matter how much family values you try to teach your children, the peer pressure will be there. If everyone one around these children is having sex with their boyfriends, there will be pressure put on them from their boyfriends to have sex. And if their parents ask them, most likely they'll just tell their parents their not having sex. I found
    • I spend the latter half of my teen years living at a Christian Retreat center. From those years I've come to the conclusion that Christian's can tend to overreact.
      Apocalypse is not overreacting, its just Gods way of letting you know you are not part of the food chain any more.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      To those who hold those views, rational thought isn't precisely something they find intuitive.
  • Naming (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's not a cervical cancer vaccine. It's an HPV vaccine. Notably, it protects men from contracting and spreading HPV -- so calling it a cancer vaccine is more than passively dishonest, it's actively evil if it fools men into thinking that the vaccine is just for women.

    I'm all for vaccinating everyone with this. But the campaign to fool the public by calling it a cervical cancer vaccine deserved to fail. And shame on all the newspapers and news organizations that went along with it. (I'm talking about you,
    • It's only approved for women. There's not even a test for HPV for men.
      • Come on, how many sexually discriminating vaccines can you name off the top of your head? The fact is that there are a hell of a lot of gay men out there with anal cancer from HPV, and a number of straight men without cancer, but who are spreading HPV right and left that would almost certainly benefit from the vaccine. The FDA's lack of approval is silly. And Merck has studies in men going right now which will soon remedy that.
        • The FDA's lack of approval is silly. And Merck has studies in men going right now which will soon remedy that.

          I think you just answered your own question, or at least responded to your own argument, there.

          There's probably no FDA approval for men, because Merck didn't submit any data for men, which they didn't do, because they didn't do studies on men. They didn't do studies on men, because it wasn't as cost-effective, because there are more straight women in the world than there are gay men.

          I don't think th
    • From what I understand, they tested it on women first to determine its effectiveness at preventing infectiton by the HPV strains that cause 80% of all cases of cervical cancer. It's being tested in men, but, I don't think they've completed those trials yet. But, since it's primarily to prevent HPV infection to prevent the majority of cases of cervical cancer, it's not entirely dishonest to say it's a cervical cancer vaccine. That's my opinion, any way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jhon ( 241832 ) *
        Your numbers are off... about 70% of cancer can be traced back to HPV... generally to an exposure that occurred 10 years prior to the cancer dx -- or longer. It can also be easily IDd with paps (preferably liquid based) -- and even considering their error rate, when done annually or bi-annually, it's quite effective.

        And a hell of a lot cheaper than $400 x 2 million woman/children every year a mandatory vaccination would call for.

        Further, of the HPV strains which are linked to cancer (there's about a doz
        • I'm not a doctor, pharmacist, scientist, chemist, whatever. But, from all the information I've seen about this over the past 6 months or so, they've said 80%. Even so, those strains of HPV are responsible for a large number of cervical cancer cases. Once you've been infected with HPV, that's it. Your body may clear the infection at some point, or it may not. You also may transmit it to other people. While a pap smear can detect the abnormal cells, and can lead to a cancer diagnosis and treatment ... t
          • by Jhon ( 241832 ) *
            HPV infection does not automatically lead to cancer. I'm talking about the stains that have been linked to future cancer. You make it sound like if a woman gets HPV... thats it. She WILL get cancer. If that were the case, there would be a HELL of a lot more cancer cases every year.


            Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine that is highly effective in preventing infection with types 16 and 18, two "high-risk" HPVs that cause most (70 percent) cervical cancer

            • I know HPV infection does not automatically lead to cancer. But, it's guaranteed that if you don't have HPV, you won't get cancer caused by HPV. Is it a huge expense? I don't think so, but that's just going to have to be a matter of opinion. But when we're spending billions of dollars a month on a joke of a war, I think several hundred million a year to prevent 70% of cases of cervical cancer is probably a better investment.
        • Pap smears are an effective diagnostic tool, a way to tell if a woman is already infected with HPV and has precancerous cells, but it's not a preventative tool that does anything about the infection in the first place. It's a related issue, but neither one is a replacement for the other.

          There's a difference between preventative tools and diagnostic tools; given the choice between something that actually prevents cervical cancer, and a system that will probably catch it so that it can be treated surgically,
          • by Jhon ( 241832 ) *

            Pap smears are an effective diagnostic tool, a way to tell if a woman is already infected with HPV and has precancerous cells, but it's not a preventative tool that does anything about the infection in the first place. It's a related issue, but neither one is a replacement for the other

            It is true that the pap is not a preventative but diagnostic tool. Paps will continue to be needed as the HPV vaccines only work for 3 or 4 HPV types (and theres like 20 which are linked to cancer).

            We're talking about fair

    • It's not a cervical cancer vaccine. It's an HPV vaccine.
      While you are technically correct, HPV is apparantly responsible for around 90% of all cervical cancer [] cases. HPV on its own is not all that much trouble. The real purpose of an HPV vaccine to to prevent cervical cancer, which can be deadly.
      • The real purpose of an HPV vaccine to to prevent cervical cancer, which can be deadly.
        Unless you're gay and you contract HPV-caused anal cancer because nobody told you about the HPV vaccine that could have saved your ass, instead preferring to inaccurately call it a cervical cancer vaccine as a way to dishonestly pressure opponents who were smart enough to know better anyway.
        • The drug is not FDA approved for men. As you can read here [], Merck is not legally allowed to advertise it as a treatment for anal cancer. When the studies are done I am sure they will. It's in their interest to have as many people taking it as possible, hence the controversy about the lobby effort.
  • Wrong Info on Blog (Score:5, Informative)

    by WebHostingGuy ( 825421 ) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:36AM (#18139972) Homepage Journal
    And the information on the 10 things you might know is wrong.

    1. The blog states the vaccine only decreases the chance--that's wrong. If you have not been previously infected with HPV then there is a 100% effective rate.

    2. In 2007 the incidence of cervical cancer went up.

    3. Yep, it is the most expensive, however it is the ONLY vaccine which prevent cancer and DEATH. (And yeah it made $70 million, chump change for a company which made $22 billion in 2006).

    4. Wrong. Gardasil is already a part of this program. Having a mandate will not change liability at all.

    5. There is 5 year data now with another 3 1/2 year data prior to the launch of the drug; that's 8 1/2 years of data now.

    6. This is true, however, in the current data there has been no wane in the immunity; and vaccines typically never need booster shots due to the way vaccines work.

    7. Yes, neither was any other drug on the market.

    8. Pure speculation. There has been no proof that aluminum is harmful. Gardasil was tested with Hepatitis B because it has the same aluminum compound and has been on the market for 19 years.

    9. There are currently studies going on with boys and safety data is already available for boys in the label. Also, the EU and Australia are already using on boys.

    10. It's ironic that the blog ends with making an uninformed decision when all the facts are wrong on the site.

    Yeah, this seems like a shrill for Gardasil but I have personal knowledge of this drug and sometimes setting the facts straight on a drug which is saving lives need some truth out there among the free range blogs which aren't providing accurate information.
  • It's always easy to say that a new product or technology is going to improve our lives. There will always be studies stating that the "insert new thing here" is safe and will fix what ails us. Science and medicine are not perfect. New developments frequently come about which contradict previous scientific dogma. It is quite possible that some lasting damage will be done to these girls that did not show up earlier. I'm not saying that we should listen to the religious right. But we shouldn't use a vacc

  • by AlHunt ( 982887 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:42AM (#18140002) Homepage Journal
    I suspect the vaccine is a good idea (it's still pretty new and we've seen new drugs withdrawn), but the government has no business mandating it's use. States/schools require certain vaccines to prevent outbreaks of contagious illness in schools and this vaccine does not qualify under that criteria. This is "thinkofthechildren" nanny state BS.

    That said, if I had a daughter in that age range I'd seriously consider getting her the vaccine because it has to be administered early to be effective. And I really don't think it needs to be discussed with the kids any more than a measles vaccine does - it's just another shot they'd be getting.
    • Actually all states require Hepatisis B, which does not fall into the "outbreaks of contagious illness". Also, mandates force insurance companies to pay for vaccines where they might not be normally covered and mandates allow low-income families to be protected.
    • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:09AM (#18140236) Homepage

      I suspect the vaccine is a good idea (it's still pretty new and we've seen new drugs withdrawn), but the government has no business mandating it's use.

      Why not? Choosing to remain unvaccinated hurts others. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr2001 ( 90979 )

      States/schools require certain vaccines to prevent outbreaks of contagious illness in schools and this vaccine does not qualify under that criteria.
      Er, why wouldn't it? HPV is a contagious disease. Yes, it's sexually transmitted, but the fact is that most teenagers will have had sex by the time they turn 18, probably with someone they met at school. With thost statistics in mind, why shouldn't we try to prevent them from catching HPV?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    First of all I have no "morality issue" with this vaccine. If I had a daughter, I'd give it to her in a heartbeat. I'd also teach her about abstinence (preferred) and condoms and how sex is way to spread certain diseases. No problem there.

    But when the government requires it, and is heavily lobbied by a drug company, that kinda rubs me the wrong way. Shouldn't these decisions be left up to the parents and doctors?

    Whatever the case, it doesn't keep me up at night. As long as the fundies don't OUTLAW vaccines
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:48AM (#18140060)
    Merck produces a vaccine. Merck tells the Government that this is a patented drug that other companies should not be allowed to produce because they thought of it first. Furthermore, they demand that every single female should be forced to buy and use their product at whatever price they set.

    Which brings me to my point: FUCK OFF MERCK.

    You jackasses think that you should have the exclusive right to manufacture a product and force it on everyone via bribed government officials? That is sick,immoral, and anti-capitalistic.
  • On the plus side of this, it sounds like an attempt for a pharmaceutical company to get a legislated kickback was thwarted. Imagine how much money Merck would charge for that vaccine once everyone was required to get it...

    On the minus side, it really shows how far we've slipped into rule by religious nuts. I'm not one for religion, but I don't have a problem with those who are. Religion provides comfort for people who can't deal with the world as-is. The problem is when it starts intruding on public life. W
  • So yea, only women get cervical cancer, but HPV sucks for both genders. It isn't just an amusement for men. Shouldn't we want to stop the disease wherever possible?

    As it is now, a guy who wanted to get the shots would probably have trouble getting the protection for various social reasons (poorly educated clinic workers who think the treatment is gender specific etc). Heck, since it has been marketed as a "girl thing" a lot of guys probably wouldn't even think to ask.

    It's great to stop the cancer, but st
  • $400? Not bad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Combuchan ( 123208 ) <sean AT emvis DOT net> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:19AM (#18140310) Homepage
    There are issues aside from Merck doing this and that--it's all the usual influence peddling which would be expected in the insipidly broken system that is US health care. Merck is not the target here. One target is the FDA that is utterly incompetent and immorally charged to make life or death decisions with approvals and expensive bureaucracies. Once the FDA required proof for efficacy (instead of just safety as they had been doing for 60 years prior) is probably the single most important milestone on the downward spiral.

    Given the cost of drug development, I'm surprised it's only $400. Vaccines are a one-time profit for Merck until their patent runs out. Given the alternative costs of therapies (guaranteed revenue), there's a good chance Merck just might not be as evil as they are made to be. $400 doesn't get you much in the medical world these days--not even an hour with a specialist at my doctor's office. Again, this is symptomatic of a broken system where someone else always ends up paying the cost of medical treatment or you never knowing until the bill bites you. We should be so lucky that the established price is at the forefront of the discussion.

    Besides, it works against a virus, a communicable disease that can be conceivably arrested and perhaps eradicated, for far less than the cost of the effective treatment for the cancer it causes. Treat it forever or squash it now. Shouldn't something this simple be prioritized? How is this different from everything else we get shots for if people who don't have health insurance can get it, and those that don't want it won't have it forced down their throat?

  • I'm Encouraged (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @01:39AM (#18140430) Journal
    I'm encouraged by the tone of this discussion. There seem to be a lot of people here who will see that their daughters are vaccinated if/when they have daughters. It hasn't been that long ago that the PAP test itself wasn't covered by most insurance plans because cervical cancer was limited to only one sex. Yes, that was the reason commonly given. Public outcry and the obvious benefits of the test caused insurance companies to re-think that one.

    The problem here is that the religious right is being its usual shrill self and is drowning out any potentially legitimate reasons there might be for parents not to get the immunization for their daughters. One such reason might be a desire to wait and be certain the vaccine is actually safe and effective. We've seen a lot of drugs taken off the market recently because of unforeseen dangers and side effects. (Anti-arthritic drugs come to mind.) However there are enough lunatics around who equate the HPV vaccine with enabling their teenage daughters to have sex without fear. I can imagine that conversation: Don't have sex, you can get cancer from it. It's to be hoped that these idiots don't drown out the voices of reason. It's interesting that they either (a) haven't succeeded in convincing their daughters of their message, or (b) want to control the morals of other peoples' daughters.

    At this point, mandatory immunizations for school seem to cover what used to be thought of as infectious "childhood diseases" such as measles, mumps, diphtheria, polio, and all the others. Those caused massive epidemics in the past. The difference here is that cervical cancer won't run through the schools like wildfire endangering everyone who breathes the common air.

    On balance, I suppose I'd rather see the vaccine made mandatory than to see it become a privilege of those who can afford it.
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:43PM (#18147496) Homepage
    Really, I don't like the way that Merck is pushing to get their product out the door.

    I think such vaccinations should not be pushed upon the people, especially if only one company sells it. It would give them a monopoly on this vaccine, a government funded monopoly for that.

    I think we should first test it out further before getting the whole population vaccined. Once it's a generic product, then we should maybe recommend it highly to everybody. I hate to have a government forced vaccination, kinda like Hitler had the Jews, gays and certain religious groups tagged.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson