Or just greed at work again?
Once again, the medical establishment has come up with a miracle. This time, a vaccine promises to protect women against the common HPV virus and ultimately, cervical cancer. Fueled by manufacturer Merck claims of safe, effective protection from a potentially deadly cancer-causing virus, several states have attempted to enact mandatory vaccinations of girls as young as 11. Parents are being urged to rush out and have their little girls vaccinated against this sexually transmitted disease as soon as possible.
BUT WAIT A MINUTE!
The average age for cervical cancer is 48 years of age, with over 20% of the cases occurring in women over 65 years of age, according to the American Cancer Society.
HPV can only be transmitted sexually
The vaccine, at best, only protects against a few strains of HPV.
And 90% of HPV cases go away, harmlessly, with NO treatment!
So what’s the rush? We have very little data on the possible side effects of this vaccine. And I doubt most parents believe their 11 year olds are sexually active (although sadly, a few are.) So why the big push to start so soon, so young, and without parental choice?
Once again, the almighty dollar is the most likely culprit. Merek stands to rake in $60 million dollars from the little girls in Texas alone if the currently proposed mandatory 6th grade vaccination rule goes into effect there. Multiply that by all the little girls in the other 49 states and Merek be rolling in the money. That would be welcome news for a company plagued by a 4th quarter of 2006 earnings drop of 58%, not to mention their on-going drain from Vioxx lawsuits.
I’m always suspicious when a company who stands to make money off of a medicine or vaccine is the one doing the studies and promoting its introduction into so many lives. Especially since one of the loudest voices promoting mandatory vaccination is Texas governor Perry - whose Texas Chief of State is a Merek lobbyist. The Christian right objects that the vaccine encourages early teens to become sexually active. That is certainly a risk when you require 11 year olds to be treated for something they can only catch through sexual intercourse. But my concern is one of basic safety. By preventing one thing, are we risking other as yet unknown but possibly even more widespread harm?
Sure, preventing cancer is great. But injecting millions of little girls with something that has limited effectiveness and limited long term testing to prevent a disease that they may or may not get in 30 years or more is something that should make any parent nervous.
| digg it!
For more information, the New York Times just posted another informative article.