We always wondered why Merck’s HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil, was of such interest to politicians…why it was so aggressively marketed as a cervical cancer vaccine, and why it was so widely recommended by doctors despite being fraught with controversy relating to its addressable market, efficacy, and the safety of its ingredients such as aluminum. In February 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry tried to mandate the vaccine with an executive order for young girls to be vaccinated in schools. The fallout from Monday’s debate among Republican presidential candidates has revealed some interesting answers as to why this vaccine was so heavily pushed onto our population of young girls.
During Monday’s debate, which aired on CNN, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann lashed out at Rick Perry regarding the pushing of Gardasil. “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong,” she said, and then claimed that Gardasil producer Merck & Co. employed Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff, as a lobbyist in Texas, and that the drug company had donated to Perry’s campaigns. Perry’s response was a false statement that he only received a $5,000 contribution from Merck. “”It was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them…I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”
However Perry’s campaigns have in fact received nearly $30,000 from Merck since 2000, mostly occuring before he issued his order, according to a Washington Post report. Merck also donated money to an organization called Women in Government, which was led by state Rep. Dianne White Delisi in Texas, who was the Chair of the House public health committee and also the mother-in-law of Perry’s chief of staff at the time. CBS news reported today that internal government emails show Perry’s staff working closely with Merck lobbyists on the vaccine mandate. Phone calls, faxes, emails, lunches and meetings occurred between Perry’s staff and Merck starting in 2006, just two months after Gardasil got approved. Since Merck receives $494.85 from insurers for each girl vaccinated with Gardasil, its incentives to bribe politicians to enforce mandatory vaccinations are obvious, yet not excusable, and they leave us to wonder how many other drugs and vaccines have been pushed onto unknowing populations in this manner.
The promotion of Gardasil by politicians is not only problematic because of the outright bribery and lies being told to young patients, but especially given the vaccine’s questionable safety and efficacy. Firstly, we are concerned with the safety of Gardasil because it contains the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant which has been shown in labs to induce “both behavioral and motor deficits and the loss of motor neurons and increased presence of astrocytes (cells that express inflammatory markers) in spinal cord and neuronal apoptosis (cell death) in the primary motor cortex” according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry by Professor Chris Shaw. The authors of the study conclude that “overall, the results reported here mirror previous work that has clearly demonstrated that aluminum, in both oral and injected forms, can be neurotoxic.” The accumulation of aluminum in the body has long been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and other forms of dimentia. Gardasil contains 225 cmg of aluminum in each shot for a total dose of 675 cmg of aluminum. The vaccine also contains Polysorbate 80, which has been linked to infertility and is a suspected carcinogen cited in one particular study to have “equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity for polysorbate 80 in male rats” (see references below for all study citations).
We also have concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy and its supposed cervical cancer indication. The Gardasil vaccine does not directly prevent cancer, despite that it is marketed as such. Even calling it a cervical cancer vaccine is a complete stretch of the truth, and the impact it can have on further reducing cancer incidence in an already low-risk population (such as young girls in the United States) is minimal. Gardasil acts to prevent a sexually transmitted disease known as HPV, or the Human Papilloma Virus. It protects against 4 of the 200 strains and only two of the targeted strains are known to cause cervical cancer. Since its approval, Gardasil has been given to girls as young as 6 and 8 years old who have been told it is a means to prevent cancer. The immunity it provides eventually wears off, leaving girls vulnerable to HPV again years later when they may be most in need of the STD protection.
The risk of contracting these two deadly strains of HPV and the risk of developing cervical cancer is low for females in the U.S. because the screening procedures for cervical cancer are so widely implemented that there is little need to take additional precautionary measures. The incidence of cervical cancer in the US is approximately 8 cases per 100,000 women. “The very best you could achieve with Gardasil alone would be 14 cases per 100,000 women. So in an overall population, Gardasil is never going to prevent more cervical cancers than you are already preventing with a screening program,” says Diane Harper, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, who led the clinical trials of Gardasil and its main competitor, Cevarix. 4,000 American women die of cervical cancer each year, which represents 0.001% of the US population. Given the 18,727 incidents of side effects reported amongst the 35 million vaccinated (0.05% of the vaccinated population), and the fact that there are likely many side effects yet to be officially reported, the Urban Clinic concludes that avoiding the Gardasil vaccine is the safest choice. We also warn against any doctor that promotes this vaccine, for similar reasons outlined above.
Our goal is to increase public awareness about vaccine safety. We can demand safer ingredients in our vaccines, as we have already seen the development of several mercury-free vaccines in response to the public outrage over the toxic ingredient Thimerosal. Express your vaccine concerns to your doctor and local health officials, and always be sure to research the ingredients before taking any vaccine or medication.