Many women, myself included, have been affected by cervical cancer or Human Papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives. In this series of four articles, I will examine HPV and Gardasil — the facts, the hype, and what Merck stands to gain; the marketing campaigns promoting Gardasil in the U.S. and the media’s lack of attention to concerns about the rush to mandate vaccination; the role of the non-profit group Women In Government in promoting mandatory vaccination against HPV; and what is going on outside of the U.S. on this issue.
Setting the Stage: Part One in a Series on the Politics and PR of Cervical Cancer
This piece is worth reading because it is one of those often too rare moments of insightful self-criticism from a progressive point of view. I for one will admit to being completely caught up in the idea of a vaccine against cancer.
I thought the commercials were silly, too, mostly because it was hard to believe that no one had heard this ongoing story about a virus that can cause cancer. Why not put this vaccine on the list of childhood vaccines?
As Siers-Poisson shows in great detail there are lots of good reasons to re-think the vaccine. It doesn’t prevent many cancers at all, as it turns out. Most importantly, the hype behind the drug turn out to be one of those classic behind the scenes arrangements designed to ensure profits.
Merck has only about a year before competing vaccines appear, cutting its profits. “Merck’s greed, ” Siers-Poisson, concludes in the third of a four part series, “and the willingness of its partners to go along with an industry driven campaign, have compromised the actual promise of the vaccine.”