A friend of mine’s daughter – out of nowhere – has suddenly been laid low with a strange sort of chronic fatigue. It’s been called all sorts of things – Epstein-Barr, ‘kissing disease,’ but privately I suspect something else. She is the only daughter among our friends of young women of the same age who had the ‘cervical cancer’ vaccine.
And now this vaccine with one of the worse track records in vaccine history, is being resold to boys. ‘Boys need HPV vaccine, too,’ says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its website. And when it comes to vaccines, where the US leads, the UK meekly follows.
Gardasil, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), is claimed to prevent infection from the four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause cervical and vulval precancers, and genital warts. Consequently, the vaccine is supposed to provide better protection, compared with GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix, with its more modest claim of protecting against only two types of HPV strains.
With the prevention of anal warts as its big selling point, Sanofi and Merck realize that Gardasil is a unisex vaccine and are now targeting the market for teenaged boys in the US, with the UK again soon to follow suit.
The fact is, the marketing of Gardasil in America and elsewhere represents one of the most reprehensible campaigns in drugs-industry history.
Well before the vaccine’s launch date, Merck and Sanofi Pasteur, Gardasil’s two manufacturers, engaged the services of some top advertising brains to heighten fear in the public mind about cervical cancer.
These modern Madmen unleashed their most potent weapon: a direct-to-preteen ad campaign that made it hip and cool to be vaccinated. They hired celebrities to highlight this growing health crisis. They paid for doctors to attend rallies, demanding the ‘right’ to have a vaccine for this worldwide epidemic.
“One less,” announced a hip young Patti Smith lookalike in the rocker uniform of white tee-shirt and jeans pounding a giant drum kit, flipping a drumstick for emphasis. All over America, commercials appeared on television showing hip young teens writing ‘one less’ on their gym shoes and skateboards, appliquéing it onto their hoodies and even chanting it like a mantra in time to jumping rope—“One less, one less, one less!”—while a catchy ‘One Less’ pop song played in the background.
The message of the ads was clear: the coolest girls on the block weren’t celebs or even pop stars, but those who were hip enough to know that you can prevent cervical cancer by getting their shots.
It’s an old advertising stalwart: invent the problem to sell the solution.
For a time it worked. Merck made an initial killing—until it was discovered that the HPV vaccines are the most dangerous vaccines now on the US market. According to the US government’s own vaccine reporting system, serious injury related to these vaccines is more than double the number of those reported for any other vaccine in America.
The selling of Gardasil represents one of the most cynical marketing efforts ever launched by a drug company—a worldwide campaign designed to spread fear among a generation of young women and to associate a vaccine with being hip and cool simply to market a dubious, untested, ineffective and highly dangerous solution to a relatively rare and highly treatable cancer.
Highest vaccine side-effects
The last time I looked, which was a few years ago, the National Vaccine Information Center, the largest vaccine-safety consumer organization in the US, which tracks vaccine side effects and closely monitors the VAERS reports, Gardasil’s side effects have accounted for, on average, one-fifth of all side effects reported on all 75 vaccines available. Serious injury related to the two vaccines for HPV are more than double the number of those reported for any other vaccine in the US.
Or the 10,000 plus reports received by the UK government of suspected side-effects from Cervarix, one in six deemed serious. In the UK, in proportion to our smaller population size, we have reported a higher percentage of side-effects than has the States. Like 13-year-old Brianna Price, an athletic budding dancer who left severely debilitated and in constant pain after receiving Cervarix.
Serious adverse reactions have included death, convulsions, paralysis, seizures and stroke, Guillain–Barré syndrome, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain and weakness, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, anaphylactic shock and . . . believe it or not, cervical cancer.
“Hi. My name is Christina Richelle Tarsell, but people call me Chris,” reads the heartbreaking home page of http://www.gardasilandunexplaineddeaths.com, set up by her mother to help other families make informed decisions about the HPV vaccine. “I celebrated my 21st birthday in November 2007. I did not live to see my 22nd. Suddenly, unexpectedly and inexplicably, I died in bed in June 2008. An autopsy report said that the cause of my death was undetermined. After an extensive investigation, medical experts believe I died from an adverse reaction to the HPV vaccine Gardasil. I had received Gardasil only days before my death.”
Cervical cancer is not a common cancer in the West. HPV is not a dangerous health epidemic. Ninety per cent of cases of HPV clear up by themselves—as do cervical abnormalities, which have other causes than simply a virus. Vaccines like Gardasil can prevent, at best, a tiny percentage of the viruses that lead to a tiny percentage of cervical cancers, when there are safer and more effective alternatives.
We failed to lock up our daughters away from this terrible vaccine. But there’s still time to lock up our sons.