Matt Herper Is — Of Course — Completely Right About Gardasil® (Both Good And Bad)


Forbes is running a very important piece on the case for HPV vaccination — as well as against the undue politicization of the same (at least as to HPV vaccines), through legislative mandates — all as a sub-rosa means to drive pharmaceutical profits.

Do go read all that Mr. Herper has written — but here is a bit:

. . . .Merck bears more than a little responsibility for the negative response to Gardasil. When it was introduced in 2006, Merck was still reeling from the 2004 withdrawal of Vioxx and the resulting flood of lawsuits. Instead of going slow, as many of its own advisors recommended, Merck began an advertising push to raise awareness of the risks of HPV and began lobbying state governments to make Gardasil shots mandatory. Perry was the first to sign on. Virginia, which originally voted to make HPV vaccines mandatory, recently reversed the vote. Merck would have done better to take a stance like that of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, which strongly recommends HPV vaccines for 11- and 12-year-old girls but says they should not be mandatory. . . .

“It would not have been the way the old Merck would have done business,” says David Kessler, who ran the Food & Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997. “It was a science-based company, not a marketing company. They would have been able to educate the medical community about the benefits, and the medical community would have adopted the product over time. . . .”

The company seems to agree. “Merck suspended our lobbying five years ago because our involvement became a distraction, and we believed the focus should be on the battle against cervical cancer,” a [Merck] spokeswoman says. . . .

Merck’s next-gen HPV vaccine — reputed to cover more genotypes of the HPV virus — is likely to be filed with FDA in late 2012. Let’s hope the folks at Whitehouse Station do heed their lessons earlier learned — on Gardasil®.

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