By JOHN CARREYROU and SARAH RUBENSTEIN
February 20, 2007 4:52 p.m.
Merck & Co. said it would stop lobbying states to pass laws requiring that preteen girls be vaccinated against cervical cancer in the face of a growing backlash among parents, physicians and consumer advocates.Now we just have to keep working to convince state legislators what a bad idea making this vaccine mandatory really is!
Merck's aggressive lobbying campaign was intended to boost sales of its Gardasil vaccine, which received Food and Drug Administration approval last year. Gardasil provides protection against two strains of the human papillomavirus that are thought to cause the majority of cervical-cancer cases.
But unlike a number of other diseases that U.S. schoolchildren are required to be vaccinated against, HPV isn't an airborne virus that can spread easily in a group setting. Rather, it is sexually transmitted. Gardasil also stands apart from other vaccines that are compulsory because of its high cost: $360 for a three-dose regimen.
In recent weeks, opposition to state mandates has grown among parents who want the freedom to make such a medical decision on their own and are worried about exposing their children to the unforeseen side effects of a new vaccine. Physicians and consumer advocates have also questioned the need to immunize young girls against a disease that is no longer very prevalent in the U.S. and doesn't develop until much later in life.
Merck's lobbying efforts have become a distraction from the company's goal of immunizing as many women as possible against cervical cancer, said Richard Haupt, Merck's executive director of medical affairs. Merck has "decided at this point not to lobby for school laws any further."
If you live in CT, you can still go to the public hearing tomorrow (see post below).
This news is all over the wires - Here's an additional piece from USA Today.