At my last annual wellness check-up, my doctor asked me if I wanted to receive the Gardasil shots to protect against 4 different HPV viruses. Gardasil is, according to it’s own website, the only Human Papillamavirus Vaccine (HPV) that aids in the protection of viruses that cause 75% of cervical cancer cases and 90% of genital warts cases. My family doctor happens to be a close family friend, so I asked her for her own personal opinion of the vaccine and she shared with me that she did not let her daughter get it. I found this very interesting, considering many other doctors in the office were advocating for the vaccine, and I knew many other girls my age who had already gotten the series of three shots over six months.
Gardasil is promoted to help protect women (and men) between the ages of 9-26 from contracting several different cervical cancers. The website does state that it may not be effective for everyone, and that the vaccine will not protect or treat people who already have viruses. After completing further research, I found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorse the drug, saying that is it safe and over 57 million doses of the drug have been given to date without any concerns or safety issues. They also state that although the drug is good to get before becoming sexually active, that almost all sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their life and not know it; the body usually fights off the virus naturally before people become aware that they have any strand of disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also claims to continue to monitor the vaccine and ensure that it remains safe for people to have as of today.
Therefore, in theory, the drug appears great. However, what is not advertised with the drug is that if a person has already been exposed to HPV 16 or 18, according to Dr. Mercola, and they receive Gardasil, their chances of forming precancerous lesions increases by as much as 44.6%. Therefore, it is important for people to have an HPV screening before receiving injections of the drug, which is not advertised to the public either. All they hear is that Gardasil prevents cancerous diseases, but not that it could increase their chances of contracting a cancerous disease, when in more than 70% of HPV cases, the body naturally clears it up within several months and over 90% of cases are cleared up without ever exposing any symptoms.
The drug was approved by the FDA on June 8, 2006, and was tested on more than 11,000 women around the world, with results showing that the drug was effective in the prevention of precancerous lesions and genital warts in women who had never been infected with HPV types 6, 11, 16, or 18. On June 30, 2008, 9,749 reports were collected of women who had been given the injection and out of these, 6% of the cases showed negative effects, including twenty deaths. There were two main causes for these deaths, including GBS and blood clots, but all cases of people who died and had these other illnesses or problems showed no correlation between Gardasil and their deaths. This is an example of what we learned in class, that causation does not equal correlation.
However, France and Japan have both banned the drug, Spain has recalled it, India banned clinical trials of Gardasil, and Israel is considering a ban as well, as A Shot of Truth States. New studies have recently been showing that the drug is inducing cancer more than preventing it. When one mom, Karen Maynor, who encouraged her daughter to get the shots and then she died a few days after, pleaded with the government to reinvestigate the drug and the death reports/injuries girls were receiving after the shot, the Obama administration did not investigate but instead spent $1.2 million dollars to provide poor girls in the minority with Gardasil. In 2006, people started advocating against the drug, including Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center, stating that the CDC and FDA have not been fairly informing the public of the serious reactions and deaths following the injections of the vaccine. As it appears from their information, Gardasil had only been tested on approximately 1,000 young girls under age 16 before doctors were giving the drug to millions of young girls. Then in 2008, Judicial Watch gave a special report in which they examined the FDA’s HPV Vaccine Records and found several cases in which girls had died, developed seizures, or became paralyzed after receiving the doses of the drug. As of June 2014, the following statistics have been reported: (chart from the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System)
Did Not Recover 7,111
Abnormal Pap Smear 572
Cervical Dysplasia 243
Cervical Cancer 78
Life Threatening 640
Emergency Room 11,705
Extended Hospital Stay 251
Adverse Events 35,270
According to the Shot of Truth, the National Vaccine Information System (the oldest and biggest consumer led advocacy organization for the safety of drugs) claims that only 1-10% of death and serious cases are reported to the organization, and the CDC openly admitted to under representing and reporting vaccine cases. Even though the reported cases exceeded 30,000 adverse events in 2013, the CDC continued to encourage doctors to advertise and ask patients if they wanted to receive the drug. In 2012, the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics stated that Gardasil’s claims in their advertisements were more created to cause a fear in many young women of contracting cancer so that they would get the drug rather than being based on the proven or potential benefits of the drug itself. Merck & Co.’s own executive director (the company that owns/created Gardasil) even stated that the goal of his company was to get the vaccine into as many young aged girls as possible through creative approaches (in other words aggressive ad campaigns) so that they would take action and seek out the drug.
After analyzing several viewpoints, including Gardasil’s claims from their own website and completing more in depth research from various outside sources, I feel as though Merck & Co., though appearing to have good intentions upon the release of Gardasil, is more interested in making money off the drug than informing the public of all the true side effects and actual prevention of teens/young adults from contracting genital warts and cancer from certain HPV viruses. The CDC has not been accurately recording information, and the adverse events that occurred after drug usage and deaths have continued to increase and are above 30,000 as of June 2014. I am personally thankful that people started speaking up and advocating against the use of the drug, as it is not banned in a few countries for no reason! On a smaller scale, I can relate this to the conversation we had in class about bleeding out, and how for many years doctors were actually killing patients instead of making them better by causing such large amounts of blood loss. I feel that if over 70% of HPV viruses can naturally be fought off by the body without people ever having any symptoms, and the body is capable of healing itself in this way, Gardasil is not necessary and is just increasing the chances of developing cancerous lesions by increasing the risks for other strands of HPV not “protected” by Gardasil.