By Jacqueline Dollard, Contributing Author from New Zealand
On the heels of the Vioxx scandal, Merck & Co. has apparently manufactured another marketplace dud with Gardasil. After receiving fast-track approval from the FDA in 2006, Merck’s aggressive ‘One More Girl’ marketing campaign catapulted HPV into the collective consciousness as a serious health issue. Almost overnight, medical consumers went from not knowing HPV existed to fear of infection with the dreaded virus. Presto! HPV pandemonium was born.
5 years later Gardasil sales are decidedly lower than expected despite the hype and fear tactics. As the saying goes, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” in this case the way forward is a cat.
The United Nations Population Fund, UNPFA and Sanrio, the popular maker of everything Hello Kitty, have joined forces in a campaign called ‘Hellosmile Project.’
The UN will utilize the high fructose brand as an avenue to reach all women globally to promote awareness and prevention of cervical cancer. The project, originating in Japan, has kicked off for the first time in the United States last month at the Sanrio Store on 42nd street, New York.
The integration of HPV Vaccine Delivery Programmes into health systems worldwide is a key component to UNPFA’s awareness and prevention campaign.
This powerful marketing effort by the UNPFA and Sanrio means Merck’s Gardasil will receive a major boost. Hello Kitty is the perfect candidate to breathe life back into the branding of HPV. Mind-numbingly sweet, adored by toddlers, teenagers, and young women all around the world regardless of nationality. Hello Kitty is a global icon, pervasive in popular culture and produced on every lifestyle item imaginable. She can be seen as a fashion staple worn by celebrities from Lady Gaga, Miley Cirus, Niki Minaj to Halle Berry, just to name a few.
According to Sanrio, they are “ambassadors who speak with a language above and beyond words.” In other words they don’t need facts they just smile and look cute.
Will the target audience of the Hellosmile Project be told the following facts about the Gardasil?
- Over 70% of the participants in Gardasil clinical trials developed new medical conditions.
- The vaccine may increase chances of pre-cancerous lesions in individuals who have already been exposed to vaccine relevant HPV by 44.6%.
- Clinical trials conducted by Merck in India were shut down after the deaths of 6 young women and ethics violations.
- Included in a US Federal report on side-effects: seizures, anaphylactic shock, foaming at the mouth, grand mal convulsion, now paralysed, and coma are a few of the descriptions connected to the vaccine.
- There is a laundry list of adverse reactions reported to VAERS on this vaccine that include MS, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, countless hormonal, neurological, immune disorders, stomach disorders, and death.
- Duration of protection after Gardasil is unknown.
- Routine screening/good gynaecological care is the only proven safe and effective way to avoid cervical cancer.
With facts like these, perhaps it’s good to have ‘ambassadors who speak with a language above and beyond words.’
Does Hello Kitty believe in informed consent, or simply handing out more brain-candy?
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