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Academics Say Gardasil Should Not Be Mandatory

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:59 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Merck, Gardasil, Cervical Cancer, Human Papillomavirus, HPV Vaccine Legislation


IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto / girl being vaccinated / author: pflorendo

More academics have joined the debate about whether or not to require government mandates for immunizing girls with Gardasil, against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of cervical cancer.

In the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, three scholars argue that local and state governments should not require cervical cancer vaccinations for constitutional and public health reasons.

They contend the vaccine – intended to prevent cervical cancer in young girls – fails to meet the same level of public health threats as existing mandates for other childhood vaccinations.

Therefore, they argue, courts may decide not to uphold the constitutionality of a mandate for vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV).

“We must use caution when adding more vaccine requirements when they surpass the original intention of mandatory, school-based vaccinations,” Javitt told the WSJ Health Blog.

Educating parents to the benefits of vaccinating, would in turn allow parents to make an informed decision without feeling pressured, recommends Javitt.

Critics have questioned the long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, approved by the FDA in 2006. There have been numerous reported cases of reactions to the Gardasil vaccine resulting in rare neurodegenerative autoimmune conditions like Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The Gardasil vaccine has also been associated with Bell's Palsy, especially in younger women.

“Merck has stopped lobbying for Gardasil-school requirements. The company is focused on educating policy and lawmakers about the Gardasil vaccine, cervical cancer and HPV,” said a Merck spokeswoman in an email to the WSJ Health Blog.

“The company’s main objective is to ensure that Gardasil, intended to protect against the HPV that causes 70 percent of cervical cancers, is used effectively to help lower the incidence of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases nationwide,” she wrote.

An estimated 11,070 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed and 3,870 women will die this year in the United States, according to The American Cancer Society.

The federal government says Gardasil is safe.

That is just the latest federal proclamation promoting the controversial drug by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The CDC and FDA say they’ve looked at the more than 10,000 adverse events and 22 unexplained deaths of young women, and conclude the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks. #

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