Merck marketing of Gardasil described as pushy, disturbing

And new details on the vaccine's safety. The WSJ reports:

Recipients of Merck & Co.'s Gardasil cervical-cancer vaccine had higher rates of fainting and blood clots than those receiving other vaccines, but it doesn't appear to raise the risk of certain severe adverse events, according to a new safety analysis.

The writer of one editorial in this week's JAMA called the marketing "pushy" and "disturbing."

Another article also addressed Merck's marketing campaign. Excerpt:

As marketing of this HPV vaccine demonstrates, pharmaceutical company campaigns can undercut the most cost-effective and appropriate use of new agents to the detriment of adolescent health. By making this vaccine's target disease cervical cancer, the sexual transmission of HPV was minimized, the threat of cervical cancer to all adolescents maximized, and the subpopulations most at risk practically ignored.

The manufacturer's marketing strategy for this HPV vaccine sought to overcome the obstacles that its HBV vaccine had encountered: avoid limiting the vaccine to high-risk populations, promote it for all women, and secure government reimbursement and mandates. To these ends, Merck funded established professional medical associations (PMAs) including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and smaller groups, including the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP), the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO), and the American College Health Association (ACHA). ...

That these arguments were delivered by PMAs is cause for concern. Professional medical associations are obligated to provide members with evidence-based data so they can present relevant risks and benefits to their patients. To this end, PMAs must become more transparent about their relationships with industry, disclosing both the precise funding and technical assistance they have received to develop and disseminate the promotional products.49 Under no circumstances should PMAs administer product-specific speakers' bureaus, nor should they accept funding that requires them to report activity to the donor. It is important for PMAs to advocate for vaccination as a public good, but recommendations must be consistent with appropriate and cost-effective use. In no other way will adolescents' or anyone else's health and quality of life be enhanced.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on August 18, 2009 4:04 PM.

Health care reform should be framed as civil rights movement: Alter was the previous entry in this blog.

CBS story on Guillain Barre Syndrome was a confusing jumble is the next entry in this blog.

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