To achieve the 98 percent efficacy claim, Merck excluded from analysis anyone who “violated” the study protocol. In other words, all real-world problems that arose were excluded from analysis. Problems like girls who refused to take a second or third shot after they became sick and (correctly or incorrectly) blamed the vaccine. Or doctors who incorrectly gave the vaccine to someone who shouldn’t have received it. While it’s worth knowing how effective the vaccine is when it’s used exactly as it should be, for a public-health decision, it’s not as relevant as its real-world effectiveness.
To Merck’s credit, they reported that when all women in the study were analyzed, the vaccine’s efficacy dropped to 44 percent. Still, 44 percent might be considered a smashing success when you’re talking about saving lives. Except for one thing: the numbers get worse. The 44 percent benefit included only those women with the two specific cancer-causing HPV strains found in the vaccine. But when the researchers looked at negative cervical changes from any causes, they found that changes occurred in unvaccinated women at a rate of 1.5 events per 100 person-years, while vaccinated women had 1.3 events—dropping the benefit to 17 percent.
Moreover, most of the cervical changes tracked by the researchers weren’t even indicative of cervical cancer in the first place. Most were innocent cellular abnormalities that either disappear entirely on their own, or never progress to cancer. In fact, when they looked more closely at advanced cervical changes most likely to progress to cancer versus more innocent changes that go away spontaneously, it was the innocent changes that accounted for the decline.
Whether Gardasil will reduce cervical cancer deaths in real-world conditions has simply never been answered. It might—but that would take a long-term study, and one that should be done before it’s widely promoted.
So how did the HPV vaccine become a multi-billion-dollar winner for Merck? Well you might not be surprised to hear that the company happily lavished money on doctors, professional societies, and over 100 legislators. Of course, there is no tie between the recipients of this largesse and their promotion of the vaccine, say beneficiaries like presidential candidate and current Texas governor Rick Perry. In 2007, Perry signed an executive decree mandating that all girls in Texas receive the vaccine. The $28,500 Perry received was minor compared to his other connection to Merck: Perry’s chief of staff, Mike Toomey, became a lobbyist for Merck, championing the HPV vaccine. Once in that position, announced his plans to raise over $50 million for Perry’s presidential campaign.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
When Science is marketed...
5-AZA A. Melvin Ramsay Acne Advocacy Alan Light Alternative medicine is an untested danger Ampligen Andrew Wakefield Anecdote Anthony Komaroff Antibiotics Antibodies Anxiety Aphthous Ulcers Apnea Asthma Autism Autoimmune Disease Behçet’s Ben Katz Bertrand Russell Biology Blood sugar Bruce Carruthers Caffeine Calcium Cancer Capitalism Cardiology Carmen Scheibenbogen CBT/GET CDC Celiac Disease Cereal Grains CFIDS Chagas Charité Charles Lapp Christopher Snell Chronix Clinician Coconut Milk Cognition Common Sense and Confirmation Bias Conversion Disorder Coxiella Burnetii Coxsackie Criteria Crohn's Cushing's Syndrome Cytokine Daniel Peterson Darwinism David Bell Depression Diabetes Diagnostic Differential Disease Diseases of Affluence DNA DNA Sequencing Dog DSM5 EBV EEG Eggs Elaine DeFreitas Elimination Diet Enterovirus Epstein-Barr ERV Etiology Evolution Exercise Challenge Faecal Transplant Fame and Fraud and Medical Science Fatigue Fatty Acids Fibromyalgia Francis Ruscetti Fructose Gene Expression Genetics Giardia Gordon Broderick Gulf War Illness Gut Microbiome Harvey Alter Health Care System Hemispherx Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Herpesviridae High Blood Pressure Historic Outbreaks HIV HPV Hyperlipid Ian Hickie Ian Lipkin Immune System Infection Intermittent Fasting It's the environment stupid Jacob Teitelbaum Jamie Deckoff-Jones Jo Nijs John Chia John Coffin John Maddox José Montoya Judy Mikovits Karl Popper Kathleen Light Kenny De Meirleir Lactose Lamb Laszlo Mechtler LCMV Lecture Leonard Jason Leukemia Life Liver Loren Cordain Low Carb Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Luc Montagnier Lucinda Bateman Ludicrous Notions Lumpers and Splitters Lyme Mady Hornig Mark Hasslett Martin Lerner Mary Schweitzer MCS ME/CFS Medical Industry Medicine is not based on anecdotes Michael Maes Migraine Milk and Dairy Mitochondria MMR Money and Fame and Fraud MRI Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Multiple Sclerosis Mutton My Symptoms n-1 Nancy Klimas Narcolepsy Neurodermitis Neuroscience NK-Cell Nocebo NSAID Nutrition Obesity On Nutrition Pain Paleo Parathyroid Pathogen Paul Cheney PCR Pharmaceutical Industry Picornavirus Placebo Polio Post Exertional Malaise POTS/OI/NMH PTSD PUFA Q Fever Quote Rare Disease Research Retrovirus Rheumatoid Arthritis Rituximab RNA Robert Gallo Robert Lustig Robert Silverman Robert Suhadolnik Rosario Trifiletti Sarah Myhill Sarcasm Science Sequencing Seth Roberts Shrinks vs. Medicine Shyh-Ching Lo Simon Wessely Sinusitis Sjögren's Somnolence Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik Speculation Stanislaw Burzynski Statins Stefan Duschek Study Sucrose Sugar Supplements Symptoms T1DM T2DM There is no such thing as Chronic Lyme There is no such thing as HGRV Thyroid Tinitus To Do Toni Bernhard Tourette's Treatment Tuberculosis Vaccine Video Vincent Lombardi Vincent Racaniello Virus Vitamin B Vitamin D VP62 When Evidence Based Medicine Isn't Whooping Cough Wolfgang Lutz WPI XMRV You fail science forever