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Drug Company Lobbying to Mandate Vaccine Against Sexually Transmitted Disease

A February 11, 2007 story appearing in the Washington Post and no less than 72 different news publications has exposed the fact that a major drug company, Merck & Co. is behind the large lobbying effort to have 18 states pass laws making their vaccine required for 6th grade girls. If these laws pass, Merck, which last year showed revenues of $22.6 billion, stands to earn hundreds of millions of dollars.

The new vaccine GARDASIL is for the HPV virus which is a sexually transmitted virus and has been linked to cervical cancer. According to the Post article, at least half of all sexually active men and women carry the virus which will go away in most cases. The article then explains that in some cases, the virus lingers, causing cell changes that lead to cancer. It is based on this stretch of logic and science that the laws forcing 6th grade girls to receive these vaccinations is based.

The article notes that Merck has initiated a national TV advertising campaign, as well as spreading efforts across the country to achieve two goals in the various states. The first goal is mandated vaccines for all 6th grade girls, and the second is getting the state legislatures to pay for this effort by spending millions of dollars of state tax money to purchase the very vaccines they produce.

In Texas, Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order forcing the HPV vaccine on young girls. The Washington Post article points out that the Governor's former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, is now a lobbyist for Merck. Records also show Gov. Perry received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his reelection campaign.

Opposition to making this new vaccine mandatory is coming from several sources. James Conway, chair of the infectious diseases committee of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, stated that he felt it was not appropriate to mandate a vaccine so early in the game.

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), the nation's leading vaccine safety and informed consent advocacy organization, issued a release on this issue questioning the safety issue. "In an analysis of reports made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) since the CDC's July 2006 universal use recommendation for all young girls, NVIC found reports of loss of consciousness, seizures, joint pain and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

"The most frequent serious health events after GARDASIL shots are neurological symptoms," said NVIC Health Policy Analyst Vicky Debold, RN, Ph.D. "These young girls are experiencing severe headaches, dizziness, temporary loss of vision, slurred speech, fainting, involuntary contraction of limbs (seizures), muscle weakness, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet and joint pain. Some of the girls have lost consciousness during what appears to be seizures."