* Guard Your Daughter Against Gardasil
For years I’ve heard about Gardasil, vaccination that helps to prevent infection from two types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) that are linked to cervical cancer, I but didn’t pay much attention to it until recently. My attention was piqued when I discovered that in October 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing 12-year-old children the ability to consent to being injected with Gardasil vaccines without their parents' knowledge. This caused an uproar among the ranks of the appalled.
Gardasil was approved by the FDA in 2006 and was put on the market around the world. Merck, the pharmaceutical company that created and markets Gardasil, annually spends multiple millions of dollars a year to promote the drug and instill hope of a cervical cancer-free future, and uses media, schools, doctors and even our politicians to position itself to solidly in the minds of our young women. Hundreds of thousands of young women in the United Stares are responding, believing that they are being proactive for a cancer-free future. But unfortunately, our girls are not given all of the facts about HPV and cervical cancer, or Gardasil and its potentially-deadly side-effects.
One Gardasil television commercial opens with a young woman who states, “I choose to get vaccinated because I want to do everything I can to help protect myself against cervical cancer.”
As with all advertising, this message was carefully designed to stir emotion and motivation by inciting fear (of cancer) and empowerment (I choose). With similar encouragement from doctors and schools (and often their mothers), young women are receiving the vaccine with the belief that they are doing something good for their bodies and their future. Without the truth about HPV and Gardasil, these women are gambling with their health without a full deck of cards.
Google ‘Gardasil’ and you’ll find hundreds of websites and articles that reveal the dangers of the drug, including statistics of debilitating or deadly side-effects. You’ll also find information about Merck’s misleading marketing campaign to push this unproven, unnecessary vaccine on young girls and their mothers in the name of profits. In fact, currently in production is a documentary called “One More Girl,” that will feature stories of women and families whose lives were devastated by a Gardasil injection.
The point of this report is to provide education and information about an issue that is important for women. It is to encourage you to learn the facts so that you can warn your daughter about the realities of Gardasil so that they can make better decisions about their health. This article is not just a warning about Gardasil, but also a wake up call for each of us to resist the seduction of advertising, and to dig deeper for the facts and weighing the risks and benefits before using any drug – or buying into anything, for that matter. It is also a reminder that we do have more control over our health than we think, and using healthy preventive measures will eliminate the need for a dangerous, prophylactic drug.
What is Gardasil?
Merck positions Gardasil as the “Cervical Cancer Vaccine,” and is recommended for women ages 12-25. (It is also available for young men, but marketing does not yet target that group.) The drug is administered in a series of three injections at a cost of around $130 per shot. Gardasil was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2006 and is marketed around the world, including Europe, India, Australia and developing countries.
Merck lists the side effects of this drug: “pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. Fainting can happen after getting GARDASIL.”
The 2010 US Census states that there are more than 20 million young women between the ages of 10 and 19. If even half of them are vaccinated, at $360 per girl, that is billions of dollars for Merck, just from sales in the United States. In fact, In 2008, Merck generated $1.4 billion in revenue from Gardasil.
Merck’s promotion of Gardasil has been aggressive from day one of its launch in 2007, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for an advertising campaign that spans television, the web and print, targeting young women, to instill urgency to “protect against cervical cancer” with Gardasil. They hire doctors to train them to speak about the drug and pay them $4500 to per presentation. Lobbyists put pressure on politicians.
Merck, itself, reported that it paid more than $18 million dollars to doctors to speak about Gardasil in the third and fourth quarters of 2009 alone. These are doctors who are encouraging girls to receive the vaccine and their mothers to also encourage their daughters.
Television ads that target teenage women position Gardasil as “the only cervical cancer vaccine that helps protect against four types of HPV,” and a way to protect oneself against cervical cancer.
The Dangers of Gardasil
In your Google search, you’ll find two websites that will shake you up; Sanevax.org and truthaboutgardasil.org feature heartbreaking stories about beautiful and vibrant young women who have become ill, permanently disabled or who died as a result of the Gardasil vaccine. This pool of conscious, talented women represents a tremendous loss for the planet, who senselessly met their physical demise because they weren’t given all of the warnings of the drug.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that as of September 15, 2011, approximately 40 million doses of Gardasil were distributed in the U.S. Among those to receive the vaccine:
Betweem May 2009 and September 2010 alone, Gardasil is responsible for 3,589 harmful reactions and 16 deaths
Adverse effects include emergency room visits, blood clots, seizures, paralysis, brain inflammation, lupus and many others.
Gardasil has been cited for triggering autoimmune diseases, such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which leaves the victim disabled and is untreatable. These statistics are conservative, and in reality, the numbers of adverse reactions and death may be much higher. Many doctors who injected Gardasil may not report adverse reactions, for fear of malpractice suits or other negative responses.
The statistics are conservative. That the CDC received these statistics from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a “passive” reporting system. The National Immunization Program of the CDC describes the limitations of passive reporting, saying: “The significant underreporting of known outcomes, together with the nonspecific nature of most adverse event reports, highlights the limitations of passive surveillance systems in assessing the incidence of vaccine adverse events.”
None of Merck’s information or advertising disclose this to the school children to whom they market or their parents.
The Politics of Gardasil
Jerry Brown is not the only governor who is allowing Gardasil into the school system. At the time of this writing, the United States Legislature is debating as to whether or not to require all school-age girls to become vaccinated with Gardasil.
Most disturbing is the fact that the Legislature has stalled on its decisions due to a debate on funding issues, and not on the risks and dangers of the drug.
The Gardasil campaign is an illustration of the power of pharmaceutical companies and its influence on our politics. The National Vaccine Information Center criticized the Governor Jerry Brown for “bowing to pressure from the pharmaceutical and medical trade lobby.”
And rightly so. And the criticism shouldn’t end there. Investigations indicate that numerous California State legislators received campaign funds from Merck. You can find a list of those politicians and there funds on www.calwatchdog.com
In 2007 Texas governor Rick Perry made an executive order that would have required all sixth grade girls in the state to receive the vaccine unless their parents opted out. Luckily, it was overturned by state legislature. Perry’s campaign has received more than $30,000 from Merck since 2000.
Michelle Bachman, a GOP candidate who ran against Perry in the Primary Elections, called Perry out on his mandate and was severely criticized for it.
Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D), voted to uphold the vaccine mandate in Virginia. I found no indication that Whipple accepted campaign funds from Merck, illustrating the effectiveness of Merck advertising.
A few facts about Cervical Cancer:
Cervical cancer is indeed a disease that takes thousands of lives annually, and women should do everything they can to prevent it. Per the National Cancer Institute: “Persistent HPV infections are now recognized as the cause of essentially all cervical cancers, as well as most cases of anal cancer. In 2011, more than 12,000 women in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 are expected to die from it. Cervical cancer is diagnosed in nearly half a million women each year worldwide, claiming a quarter of a million lives annually.”
Around the world, this cancer is most common among women 35 years and older. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in females worldwide, accounting for 9% (529,800) of the total new cancer cases and 8% (275,100) of the total cancer deaths among females in 2008.
In developing countries, a larger percentage of women die from cervical cancer because they are medically underserved and don’t have the annual screenings and as Pap smears that allows detection of precancerous and early stage cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is an easily treatable cancer when detected early through annual gynecological exams and Pap smears.
A few facts about HPV and Cervical Cancer:
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) indicates, “Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 150 related viruses, of which more than 40 can be sexually transmitted. Genital HPV infections are very common, but most occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment over the course of a few years.”
The NCI also states that “both high-risk and low-risk types of HPV can cause the growth of abnormal cells, but only the high-risk types of HPV lead to cancer. It is important to note that the great majority of infections with high-risk HPV types go away on their own and do not cause cancer.
At least 15 high-risk HPV types have been identified, including HPV types 16 and 18. Gardasil “protects” against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.
HPV does not always become cancer. Though Merck is marketing Gardasil as the “Cervical Cancer Vaccine”, but science isn’t even sure that HPV is the cause of cervical cancer. The National Cancer Institute acknowledges a link between HPV and cervical cancer, but it is not conclusive. “The finding of HPV viral DNA integrated in most cellular genomes of invasive cervical carcinomas supports epidemiologic data linking this agent to cervical cancer; however, direct causation has not been demonstrated.”
Digging Deeper: Gardasil Revealed
Over the past couple of years, after too many reports of horrific adverse reactions and deaths, more frightening facts about Gardasil are being revealed. If you aren't yet convinced that Gardasil is dangerous, read on.
Gardasil is more dangerous than cancer. In 2009, Gardasil Developer Dr. Diane Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, stepped out to claim that Gardasil prevents abnormal pap tests, not cervical cancer. During an address at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination in Reston, Virginia in 2009, she said that Gardasil vaccine may be more dangerous than cancer, and that a girl is more likely to die from an adverse reaction to Gardasil than from cervical cancer.”
In a paper published in Journal of American Medical Association, corroborated with a report that indicates, the estimated rate of reported serious adverse events from Gardasil is 3.34/100 doses distributed. This rate is higher than the death rate from cervical cancer in the US which stands at 2.4/100 women.”
Gardasil does not protect everyone against HPV or cervical cancer. In fact the Gardasil website discloses: “Gardasil may not fully protect everyone, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV. Gardasil does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it’s important for women to continue routine cervical cancer screenings.”
The vaccine is effective for only three to five years. Merck Pharmaceuticals, our schools and doctors are targeting twelve-year-old girls, who are not yet sexually active, for this vaccination. By the time they become sexually active, they effects of Gardasil will have disappeared. Without knowing this, girls will have a false sense of security that they are protected in their sexual activities beyond the five year mark.
The average age that a girl in the United States loses her virginity is 17. So a 12-year-old girl who receives the vaccine today may not be protected agains HPV by the time she first engages sexually.
Clinical Trials are not complete until 2014. There is uncertainty that the vaccine even works. The FDA expedited the approval of Gardasil because Merck was so aggressive to get it on the market. Experts indicate that it was not tested long enough. In fact, clinical trials are not yet complete and scheduled to continue into 2014.
It would take years, if not decades, to really determine the effectiveness of Gardasil. The average age of women with invasive cervical cancer in the United States is between 45 and 50, while the average age of women with carcinoma in situ is between 25 and 35. If a 12 year-old were to be vaccinated today, we wouldn’t know for decades whether or not it actually works.
Other uncertainties include the possibilities that Gardasil is carcinogenic or causes infertility. We just don’t know.
No pre-screening is required. Before any drug is administered, a pre-screening process should be put into place to determine pre-existing or dormant conditions that may be exacerbated by a drug. Currently, there is no required pre-screening to determine if the child is healthy enough to handle the vaccine, or if the child has already been exposed to HPV.
Girls and their mothers are not being informed of the side effects and risks.
As with most advertisements, Gardasil ads are the result of massive market research, and are specially designed to communicate to young women and motivate them to take action without question. We need to fill in the blanks with statistics and information about the risks.
In 2011, France pulled Gardasil television ads calling them false advertising, and the United Kingdom, Norway and India are also working to ban the ads for the same reason.
India has stopped offering Gardasil to its women due to the great numbers of adverse reactions among recipients.
WHAT WE CAN DO
As the girl in the Gardasil commercial says, “ I choose to do everything I can to help prevent cervical cancer.” I’m certain we all agree. Are there are numerous actions we can each take to prevent exposure to HPV and thwart cervical cancer, many of them are common sense. Let’s teach our daughters these lessons and motivate them to be proactive in personal health and sexual responsibility. Be role model for our daughters and younger generation and practice these ourselves.
Practice Safe Sex and Selective Sex
Nowhere, in any Gardasil promotional materials, is the recommendation of safe sex practices or the use condoms. While condoms are not a solid barrier against transmitting HPV or any virus, studies prove that condoms help protect women from HPV if they are used correctly.
The more sexual partners one has, the greater the risk of becoming exposed to the HPV virus. Always use a condom if you are not in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone you trust, and even then, be thoroughly screen your partner before foregoing condoms.
Unfortunately, there are no screenings to detect genital warts or HPV, and perhaps it is here that Merck can better serve the population.
Instill Self-Love and Self-Honoring
More important than safe sex practices is the cultivation of self-love and body-honoring. As woo woo as this may sound, statistics prove that girls with low self-esteem are more likely to buckle under the pressure to have sex, even if she doesn’t want to. Young women with ample self-confidence and self-acceptance are less likely to engage sexually for approval, and is more likely to be selective about her partner and protective of her body. Instilling self-esteem in our girls starts from the day they are born, however it can be developed in later years with proper guidance and love.
Provide positive sex education starting at a young age
It is important to teach all of our children, not just our girls, the multiple dimensions of sexuality, including emotional, physical and spiritual. Teach them to respect, love and honor their own bodies and those of others. Conscious sexuality will help to decrease HPV and all other STDs, as well as unwanted pregnancies.
Encourage independent thinking and discernment.
Our entire culture is seduced by advertising. Marketing is strategic, manipulative and focused on financial profit. Teach your daughter to perform research to learn about all aspects of a product before buying. This is especially true of Gardasil.
Become a teacher: Learn the facts yourself.
Make it a point to learn all we can about the issues that affect our children so that you can provide educated guidance and make decisions based on the facts. Give our children the information that the pharmaceutical companies are not offering. Give them information that explains the risks of the vaccine and statistics of the women who have become ill or died from it.
Be Healthy to Prevent Cancer
Everyday we can take proactive measures to protect ourselves from cervical cancer and all cancers by living a healthy life. A healthy body is a powerful defense against all viruses. Eat only healthy foods and teach your daughters about the benefits of proper Discourage a diet that includes fast food and soft drinks. Give your children supplements that build the immune system, such as multivitamins, especially Vitamin C, and probiotics. In fact, studies performed by the Institute of Vibrant Living show that probiotics help strengthen the immune system against all viruses.
Encourage strong and supportive communication between your child and you. Talk about all matters of sexuality. Let them know that you will help them make decisions about vaccinations and other important matters that regard body and soul.
We can battle cancer by making choices that are truly beneficial to our bodies. Let’s produce a television commercial that delivers THAT message!