Factual · Powerful · Original · Iconoclastic
To hear the politicians say it, Merck's new HPV vaccine is the greatest health advance since penicillin. Hence, like Polio shots, it should be mandatory for all 11 to 12-year-old girls. Only those "nut cases" on the religious right could oppose a miracle like this, right? Wrong. Indeed, as I write in The Weekly Standard some of those politicians and allegedly neutral groups lobbying them are being paid off by Merck. The reality is that this vaccine provides protection 70% of the time against the HPV strains that causes about 1 in 75 U.S. female cancer deaths a year. Moreover the incidence and death rate of that cancer, that of the cervix, has been steadily dropping for decades. It also takes about 30 years on average for those few HPV infections that do cause cancer to reach the point where they are life-threatening, during which time all of those women should be receiving regular Pap smears that would catch the cancer from HPV - or other causes - in its tracks. Yet for this we're going to mandate a series of three injections costing $360 total? And we're in such a hurry to do it that we can't wait for the almost inevitable approval of a competitor vaccine later this year? Hey, you can't blame Merck for trying - but you can blame our elected officials.