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Merck steps up to defend Gardasil following vaccine bashing in Republican debates September 21, 2011

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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Republican presidential candidates Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Sen. Rick Santorum used a debate in September 2011 to target Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order requiring all schoolgirls in his state to be vaccinated against HPV. The Gardasil vaccine was said not only to be an abuse of executive power, according to Bachmann, but also dangerous since some parents were reporting that it made their children mentally retarded. Bachmann’s claims about the side effects of the vaccine, though, appeared to be entirely made up. The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had both okayed the drug.

Regardless of Bachmann’s exaggerated criticism, Gardasil maker Merck found it necessary to release a statement to address the public fear over the vaccine. In a press release, Merck stated:

“The facts about GARDASIL are clear. The efficacy and safety of GARDASIL was established in clinical trials in thousands of patients. Since its approval in 2006, the vaccine has been given to millions of girls around the world. Merck remains strongly committed to preventing cervical cancer.

Leading national and international health organizations actively monitor and evaluate the HPV vaccine, and they continue to recommend its use. Just last month, the Institute of Medicine reaffirmed the safety of a number of vaccines, including HPV vaccines, and concluded, “Despite much media attention and strong opinions from many quarters, vaccines remain one of the greatest tools in the public health arsenal.”

For more on Bachmann’s claims, and earlier concerns about Gardasil, watch the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why might Merck have been effected by Bachmann’s statements, even if she is considered a fringe candidate?

2.  Why is there so much suspicion about whether Gardasil is necessary?

3.  Was Merck’s response to the scandal sufficient enough to kill the crisis?

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