Friday, January 15, 2010

Merck looks to expand $400 Gardasil use while scientists say a $2 test could prevent 100,000 deaths from cervical cancer

Maybe it’s just me. But I found it extraordinarily offensive that on the same day that scientists in Britain reported that 100,000 deaths from cervical cancer could be prevented annually by the use of a $2 test overseas, reports surfaced that Merck is once again trying to get approval for Gardasil (cost: $360 per person, plus whatever health care providers charge for administering it) to be used for women aged 27-45.

The difference is, of course, that expensive Gardasil will be used in the US, where it is least needed. Although at least 80 percent of women here will be infected by the HPV virus, 95 percent of those infections will be shrugged off by healthy immune systems, leaving in their wake a natural immunity to further infection. Of the small percentage of cases that become persistent, many could be avoided by eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking, getting enough sleep, limiting sexual partners, etc. And most (granted, not all) persistent HPV infections that do turn to cancer can be caught early by regular screening.

Still, an incredibly effective marketing scheme that fails utterly to accurately inform women about the pros and cons of the vaccine has convinced women that unless they pony up big bucks they’re going to get cervical cancer.

Now Merck, dismayed by flagging sales and by clear evidence that Gardasil isn’t cost-effective for the potentially lucrative male market and its recommendation only as a wart-preventer and not as a cancer preventative for boys, is once again going after the older women market. It will be interesting to see whether they have found a way around earlier evidence that Gardasil may actually cause existing HPV infections to become cancerous.

Meanwhile, in developing countries, where women often aren’t able to get regular life-saving Pap smears and equally often have depleted immune systems due to inadequate diet—countries where Gardasil would actually make sense—a simple, dirt-cheap test could really, truly save lives. It can be used in rural areas without sophisticated equipment and labs; a nurse, midwife, or OB/GYN simply swipes the patient's cervix with acetic acid (vinegar) and then looks at the tissue. If lesions are present, the tissue turns white.

The only obstacles? Raising awareness, and getting enough money and qualified people to do the $2 tests and follow-up. Without, of course, a fraction of the budget that Merck has used to sell the largely unnecessary Gardasil vaccine.

So once again, I’m telling Blue Cross/Blue Shield: thanks for offering my girls the vaccine, but please send the $800 to an appropriate charity that offers VIA screenings to women in developing countries instead. Hey, that’s 400 potentially life-saving tests. Doesn’t that sound more cost-effective than inoculating two very low-risk girls?


Leslie said...

Merck is obviously desperate to expand their market. Perhaps the anti-Gardasil advocates message is getting out there.

However - expanding HPV vaccine for breast cancer? Preying on women's fears of getting breast cancer? It is immoral. So much for HPV being a sexually transmitted disease.
HPV Vaccine May Prevent Breast Cancer

Anonymous said...

My strong healthy hyperactive 35year (not underweight, not overweight) 35 old wife had the first shot of Cervarix (Gardasil equiv) in mid Jan 2010 and is having a severe reaction since then. This vaccine really messes up the metabolism and the immune system. This is what she suffered:

Dizzyness, frequent headache, joint pain, frequent fever, throat infection, dry upper/inner mouth, flutters in ear, severe weakness, irregular and messed up period and most importantly (this was the clue) massive loss of body fat in a very short period of time. The skin of her hands started shriveling like an old woman (hint: sub-cutaneous fat). Dry skin and mild rashes all over. She was so weakened that she was almost bedridden for a few days.

Good thing is that now she is regaining strength and on the way to recovery. This is what we and our good family physician (specialist in Internal medicine and gastro-entr) had to do.

1. MUST: Don't eat any wheat products. Eat rice instead. Stop any form of dieting and go to full nourishing meals.
2. Drink lots of water, 4 glasses of fresh fruit juice every day. Drink coconut water if you can get it.
3. Lots of butter, yogurt, curd, full-cream milk, fish. Have two country chicken/duck eggs everyday
4. MUST: A good multivitamin, specially vitamin B-Complex syrup (Polybion) 3 times a day
5. Plenty of vegetables, specially carrots and beet-root (semi-boiled)
6. Try to maintain basic physical activities but do not exert. Take good rest.
7. Eat fish
8. Sesame seed paste (mix with milk shake/yogurt)
9. MUST: Have this "muscle builder" supplement 3 times a day for 5 days (no more): "Carnitin Ornitate" (may be available under different brands).
10. Get a good protein supplement with essential amino acids.

According to our doctor, the full recovery would take a month or two.

This post may help others to cope with the after effects. The treatment may already be known to many doctors but I could not find any on the net. Hence the posting.

Always consult a "really good expert" specializing in Internal Medicine and Immunology. I mean the type of doctors (a rarity these days) who have not yet lost their brains (and heart), who try to understand things in terms of the underlying body chemistry and keep themselves updated with research and open issues. If you think the doctor is not paying attention to the effects/suffering and is dismissing you after routine stuff, change the doctor immediately. He/she probably does not know any more than what has been spoon-fed by the Merck/GSK sales folks.

And when you recover, get together with others and sue the living daylights out of GSK and Merck. I am very sure they fudged/cooked their clinical trial reports or what they tried is not what they are selling. Enron of medicine? Why not. The vaccine may or may not be effective against HPVs (time will tell) but the way they have set the dose and the turbo-charged it with the adjuvents, definitely does not suit all human beings.

PS. If your body already shows such a violent reaction, do not go for the next injections. Your immune system will remember this viral-protein till you die at a ripe old age.

Nina said...

It's so good to see you posting again Kristin. You are a clear thinker---something this issue desperately needs.

Ladies please take Kristin's words to hear. Say yes to the Pap Test; No to the Jab...Gardasil, Ceravix or any other HPV related vaccine.