News & Politics

How Effective Is the HPV Vaccine?

The New England Journal of Medicine raises some serious questions about the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.

When Merck and Co. introduced Gardisil, the media acknowledged that there were some concerns about the safety, effectiveness and cost of the vaccine, but the concern quickly died, and the media for the most part allowed itself to be sucked up into the excitement that finally there was a vaccine that could prevent cancer. After I wrote a piece addressing the issues mentioned above as well as Merck's lobbying and marketing blitz ("Making the HPV Vaccine Mandatory is Bad Medicine") along with several blog posts here (see below for links), I took a great deal of flak, much of it from feminist friends who wondered how I could possibly bad-mouth this pharmaceutical wonder that might save so many lives.

The answer quite bluntly had to do with looking beyond the very well-funded Merck hype and examining the facts. But beyond myself and a few others, the media did not make much effort to investigate whether the hype was justified or appropriate.

Last week however, The New York Times ran several articles by Elizabeth Rosenthal (here and here) that finally address the points that I had raised. Rosenthal writes that, according to the New England Journal of Medicine,

"Two vaccines against cervical cancer are being widely used without sufficient evidence about whether they are worth their high cost or even whether they will effectively stop women from getting the disease."
Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including, Counterpunch, AlterNet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, the Progressive, Countercurrents, Z Magazine, Common Dreams, In These Times and Information Clearinghouse. She also blogs at WIMN Online and writes a monthly column for the Louisville Eccentric Observer.
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