Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Merck to end lobbying for mandatory vaccinations

Merck has been getting some well-deserved knocks recently for lobbying for legislation to make the administering of their vaccine Gardasil mandatory for girls as young as 11 or 12. Now Merck has decided to suspend their lobbying efforts.

But medical groups, politicians and parents began rebelling after disclosure of a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign by Gardasil's maker, Merck & Co., to get state legislatures to require 11- and 12-year-old girls to get the three-dose vaccine as a requirement for school attendance.

Some parents' groups and doctors particularly objected because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted disease, human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer. Vaccines mandated for school attendance usually are for diseases easily spread through casual contact, such as measles and mumps.

Bowing to pressure, Merck said Tuesday that it is immediately suspending its controversial campaign, which it had funded through a third party.

"Our goal is about cervical cancer prevention, and we want to reach as many females as possible with Gardasil," Dr. Richard M. Haupt, Merck's medical director for vaccines, told The Associated Press.
I was never a big believer in the so-called moral arguments against the vaccinations. My concern was how politics, profit and ideology were driving public health policy rather than the science surrounding the vaccination.

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