Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bachmann's Ignorance Gives Merck Unwanted Publicity

Update June 20, 2013:

An independent study conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) found that since being vaccinated, the HPV virus has been reduced in girls by a whooping 56 percent.

USA Today has a comprehensive article on today's CDC news and the current results of the study.

We heard Michele Bachmann state that a woman in the audience told her that her teenage daughter became mentally retarded after getting Merck's vaccine, Gardasil.  

We know that Bachmann's statements are reprehensible due to the fact that the story in question is a lie. The vaccine has never caused mental retardation and the flurry of news reports continue to contradict her righteous certitude.

The woman who allegedly told her the story, may or may not exist, and Bachmann is a dirty politician who will use anything, factual or not, to increase her chances of reaching her political goals. (as of June 2013, Mrs. Bachmann is no longer seeking re-election and along with Sarah Palin, will be joining the Fox Network's line up of political misinformation. A job for which both are perfectly suited.)

While Bachmann continues to remain unrepentant about her statements, we need to take a closer look at the ramifications of what she said and delve a little deeper, not on Bachmann's penchant of making up things or getting things wrong, but casting a bright light on Merck and Perry.

In this case, Bachmann used the vaccine as a way to gain a political advantage over the front runner of the GOP: Rich Perry.  Her statement has been useful to remind us of something we seem to have forgotten: The history of Gardasil.

We need to take a minute and ponder the dirty politics behind Merck and Rick Perry and wonder if this vaccine is actually as beneficial as they claim it to be;  will this vaccine cause infertility issues or other health problems down the road? or is actually a gift to women everywhere?

Let's travel back in time to 2007 when Rick Perry, largely unknown to anyone outside of the great state of Texas, made the national news by assuming the role of dictator-in-chief and commanding via Executive Order, that all girls be vaccinated with Gardasil to protect them from the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is known to cause cervical cancer.
*The Texas legislature overturned this order and Perry did not pursue the issue.

It was at that time that the news reported an unhealthy financial connection between the governor and the pharmaceutical company and this gained Perry very negative national coverage and embarrassed Merck who was unprepared for the backlash and scrutiny that followed.

Back in 2007, after Governor Perry was attacked by the National media, the virtues of the vaccine were touted as the end-all of cervical cancer.  It was stated, prior to signing the executive order, that boys are the carriers and the vaccine should be given to both genders. After people started to grumble about vaccinating their sons (after all, this is a woman's problem) the public statements about vaccinating males was dropped.


Does it stand to reason that a carrier should be vaccinated to prevent spreading the virus?  Merck representatives stated clearly that both boys and girls should be vaccinated, but later dropped the issue.

The Gardasil website continues to state that both genders should be vaccinated, here is an excerpt:

Who should get vaccinated with Gardasil?

GARDASIL is for females and males ages 9 to 26. [...]  females are only half the equation. Males can get vaccinated, too. [...] Girls and boys as young as 9 can get vaccinated.
Gardasil's long-term impact is unknown.  The cost for the three-shot series is $360 per person and several questions that concerned parents should ask, have not been properly addressed.  The thing the experts seem to agree with, is that vaccines such as Gardasil can prevent some types of cervical cancer by killing sexually transmitted viruses.

The tactics used by Merck and Governor Perry opened the door to more questions.  This is a good thing for anyone considering vaccinating their sons and daughters and make an informed decision that could potentially save their children's lives.

This is probably the first time we can say that Michelle Bachmann has done anything in the public interest, even if her remarks were done exclusively to gain political ground. 

The bottom line:  The medical community agrees that this is a safe vaccine as stated earlier on the article and does NOT cause mental retardation.  AND..... We still have a lot of money in pharmaceutical companies lobbying elected officials to benefit their bottom line first.  

Gardasil Clarified: 

Now we move on to Gardasil and the medical input I have received from two medical professionals.  I leave my earlier questions about the vaccine as they appeared with the corrected information right next to it.  If you are a parent with the same questions, I pass on to you what I have learned.


A friend on Twitter - whom I respect greatly and has a medical degree - stated that the information here was wrong and could be misleading.  She sent me the link to Pediatricians Fact-Check Bachmann's Bashing of HPV Vaccine in which the medical community agrees there is no such thing as mental retardation as a side effect.  (it was stated at the beginning of the article, but it is worth reading the blog from professionals, not pundits on the tee vee machine) - This should make parents a bit more comfortable. 

The CDC reports that the vaccine is safe based on the current data and only 9% of the reported incidents were considered to be serious.  I did more research on the CDC report and even though the deaths reported are higher than what was stated earlier from the site I linked to, (different time periods)  they concurred they cannot link it to the vaccine.  Another useful link on the CDC is everything you need to know about the vaccine. 

- Two years ago, I asked three nurses at the department on health and the family GP if there was cause for concern regarding infertility issues or impotence.  They all stated they did not know, but touted the benefits of preventing cervical cancer. - 

These are my questions in regards to vaccinating my girls and the updated information:

  • Does Gardasil causes infertility/impotence issues?  The hundreds of lab rats were as young as 9 years old when in the test group. Update: Nothing on the CDC report about this but I have been informed a few minutes ago, that is is not an issue seen with vaccines.

  • Does Gardasil will provide protection for a lifetime or a new series of shots would have to be implemented at a later date? Update: CDC states the protection is about 6 yrs
  • Do we know if the body's immune system will be compromised and a new series of vaccine be ineffective?  Update: CDC states there is no evidence of decreased immunity.
What we do know is that Merck stood to make billions of dollars if every state in the nation had followed suit, or if the Federal government made the vaccination part of the series of vaccinations required to enroll children in public school.

We also know that beating generic brands to the punch was essential for Merck to be top dog in the pharmaceutical landscape and a bold move, such as mandatory vaccination, would increase their stock's value and keep shareholders happy.

We do know the following: 
  • 23 million doses were administered between 2006 and 2008
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) - the CDC agrees that the number is not unusual among the general population.  They cannot attribute this to Gardasil.  It is important that I correlate the following information which Michael F. Ozaki MD was kind enough to provide and allowed me to share with you: 

Dr. Ozaki: 

"As a doctor I do not disagree with anything in your blog I am glad you are responsible and made efforts to clarify points.

I tell patients that "correlation does not prove causation" which is a fancy way of saying because things occur in the same time frame, these things may not have a cause and effect. I brush my teeth and the sun rises, the two events are correlated but not causative. It is the same with side effects, a shot is given and a day later Guillen- Barre develops, did the shot cause it? No one knows.
The reason why we give it is risk and benefit - No one who has cancer will say they would have turned down a shot at age 12 to prevent cancer."

On why boys are not getting the vaccine:

Dr. Ozaki:

"It is more economics that prevents boys from the shot than it is medical advice. Hopefully that will change soon.  As for boys, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended it for boys but the insurance companies to date won't pay for it.

hope that helps! Thanks for your interest and I thank you for trying to get a complex issue correct." 

We all agree that cervical cancer is deadly and any vaccine that can prevent women from contracting the disease worldwide is welcome.  What we are having trouble with is the financial gain and the underhanded way in which Merck rushed to get this thing to market through Governor Perry.  

We can thank Michelle Bachmann for this great discussion here today. 

Image: Vaccine by Sura Nualpradid /


BlueTrooth said...

Great post, Olivia! To be honest, the coverage in the media has been far more favorable to Gardasil that I've seen. You raise concerns that I had no idea even existed. The "guests" I've seen have given their attention to discrediting the "rumor" of retardation and promoting the "safety" of Gardasil. One person suggested that only swelling or headache are potential side-effects. Thank you for the additional information!

Olivia Emisar said...

Thank you for reading and your comment. I have been tracking this vaccine since 2007 because, as a parent, I need to know the best course of action for my girls. The questions I have stated here have never been answered.

As I said, anything that would prevent cervical cancer is welcome, but the long-term effects is crucial to know in order to make an informed decision.

BlueTrooth said...

As I'm sure you're aware, there's some controversy surrounding the information in the post. I'll put up my disclaimer that I have no personal connection to this vaccine as I have two boys and it's unlikely they'll be getting it. Vaccinations have become more controversial, especially with the "autism" scare that was based on misinformation, so it's important that accurate info is the only standard.
With that said, I'll keep coming back again and again. Keep writing!

sandinbrick said...

Olivia, this is a great post. Not having children, and no history of cervical cancer in my family, I would not give my children this drug. But of course, it's entirely up to you and other parents to be careful about the many drugs that are on the market, and the effects later in life. As for Michelle Bachmann, another example of why I cry each night, knowing how hard I worked so that women could have a voice. Never did I dream that Palin, Bachmann or other wackos would embarress me so. Well done sweets.

skbeal said...

This just reinforces my belief that Michelle Bachmann is willing to spew all sorts of lies and throw out disinformation in an attempt to scare the living daylights out of unsuspecting people who buy her propaganda hook line and sinker. The woman is so deceitful, I'd have to have proof to believe it was snowing in Minnesota -- if she made that claim.

This nonsense she is lying about is no different than the lies that people spread about flu shots, claiming that flu shots could cause autism.

When it comes to medical information such as this, people should take the words of politicians with a grain of salt. Politicians have a tendency to say things simply to get elected -- with little regard for the truth.

I so hate that people like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin who profess to have such high morals can say what they do and spread such misinformation with a clear conscience. These people are dangerous and we need to protect the world from their insanity and dishonesty!

Anonymous said...

Having watched my father die of cancer I know any measure to prevent it is well worth it.

And a vaccine against the cancer that kills more women than any other, worth its weight in gold.

What I don't understand is Michelle Bachmann using hard won women's rights to deny women such a valuable vaccine because of her so called religious views and moralizing. There is a reason why we have separation of church and state and anyone who doesn't understand this should not a representative of the people.

marie re67u