[SaneVax: Why are so many American parents refusing HPV vaccines for their children? The media wants to know; Merck and GSK want to know; national health authorities around the globe want to know. Perhaps the answer they are looking for is not so difficult to find – they simply need to listen to medical consumers and take a look at the most recent medical literature.]
Merck & Its HPV Vaccine: Sales & Skepticism Are Both Up
By Ed Silverman, Contributor
For the past seven years, a drumbeat of publicity and warnings were issued over the virtues of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and how to thwart its spread before countless women develop cervical cancer. The impetus was FDA approval of Gardasil, the Merck vaccine, for treating girls and women between the ages of 13 and 21.
But Gardasil was a hard sell, even though Merck launched a big promotional push. Beyond generalized concerns over vaccine safety, a hot-button controversy at the time, there were also some parents and social conservatives who worried that vaccination might be seen as a green light by teenage girls to have premarital sex.
Of course, Merck made matters worse with a sneaky campaign to have Gardasil listed on mandatory vaccinations across the country. Public health officials had recommended vaccination, but the drugmaker lost credibility over its surreptitious effort to woo state legislators. Remember, this occurred just two years after the scandal over the safety of the withdrawn Vioxx painkiller.