Thoughtful Thursday: Curing Cancer or Meddling Moneygrubbers?
Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mama wants to talk about the cancer vaccine.

First, some background in case you've been living under a rock! (Also, this post is not meant to be read by children. Not that they'd bother to browse my site.)

This vaccine
(I'll call it the G-Shot) is marketed by this company (hereafter referred to as The Big M, because I'm a paranoid freak and also, it sounds cool.) that will prevent 4 types of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. Originally, the commercials promised "the first ever cancer vaccine" (not true, there is evidence the Hepatitis B vaccine prevents liver cancer) and as an all around Good Thing. It is marketed primarily at girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26.

Clarification: I'm not a paranoid freak in a vacuum. I have heard of certain pharmaceutical companies spending a LOT of time on bloggers websites after googling keywords and finding unflattering opinions.

It is brand new on the market and The Big M is pushing quite heavily to make it a mandatory vaccine, along with the usual DTap, Hep B, and other series of shots required for public school attendance. The shot is actually a series of three shots, which costs a total of $360. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, and is not contagious from sitting next to someone in algebra or sharing a locker in gym class. The G shot will prevent, usually, four strains of HPV, which cause 70% of cervical cancers. Smoking increases your risk of contracting HPV induced cancer (you won't hear that in the commercials, though); also, vaccinated women will still need to get annual Pap smears.

Here's the prescribing information, straight from the horse's mouth.

I am not opposed to the vaccine in the abstract, although I think it has not been tested enough to be given to children or to a large population. I am hopping mad, though. A good portion of my outrage is due to the Big M's misleading advertising, their underhanded business practices, and their attempt to foist their product on our children while eroding parental rights. I have at least 10 problems with it, though.

1. The HPV vaccine does not protect the general population from infection, as HPV is not easily transmissible (as opposed to, say, measles. You can get measles if someone breathes on you, thus it is a concern for a public classroom. Since girls are not having sex in a public classroom with all of the other students, it does not protect the public health in the same way.)

2. I have not seen or heard of a single study proving the long term safety of this vaccine for prepubescent girls (they are advocating giving it to children age 9-13). Adults were followed for 14 days for adverse reactions. According the Big M's website, only the effectiveness of the vaccine (whether subjects became immune) was tested on 1471 girls age 9-17; there is not a breakup of pre- and post-menarch girls. In fact, the official prescribing info on the The Big M's website states that the G shot has not been tested for carcinogenicity or genotoxicity (cancer causing or DNA mutation causing effects). The Big M's own information indicates it may cause or bring out arthritis - 5 cases in G shot patients vs. 2 cases placebo; 1 case of juvenile arthritis vs. 0 placebo. I really wish I could get at the info aimed at doctors, but I'm not prepared to lie on The Big M's website so I can't. Any doctors out there who've read it, what do you think? Is this vaccine safe for developing girls? How about their future children?

3. The methodology of the placebo has been questioned (it contained aluminum, just like the vaccine) Aluminum is the reason you get those hysterical e-mails touting a breast cancer-deodorant link; while that particular cause is false, aluminum is a metal, and does cause side effects in the human body. The placebo, containing aluminum, was not entirely inert and harmless and may have skewed results.

4. The Big M paid for all of the studies. There has been no independent data from entities not connected financially to The Big M .This is a huge problem with big Pharma - and this is how Vioxx and other unsafe drugs made it to market. Come to think of it, the Big M was responsible for the whole Vioxx debacle too.

5. Many, many people suspect they have been harmed by vaccines; one should carefully weigh the benefits vs. risks before taking any medication or shots. The numbers from the CDC regarding vaccine injury are not accurate; no one is required to report vaccine injuries and it is a passive system. I myself was harmed by a vaccine at the doctor's office, and watched in disbelief as she told me my symptoms were not caused by the injection I had received minutes before (despite having just gotten a clean bill of health).

6. The Big M is pushing HARD for this to be mandatory and the states are jumping on the bandwagon awfully fast. In the past, some vaccines have been shown to have unintended side effects, such as fatal twisting of the intestines. The vaccine was only invented a little while ago and now suddenly there are all of these laws and pending legislation, pushed through in haste. I really think we need to step back. There's a big difference between making a new medication/therapy/vaccine available and requiring it by law. (More about the above linked rotavirus vaccine - it was made and marketed by The Big M, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and pulled after less than a year because it was killing children.)

7. Three injections, over a 6 month period, are required. This could be an huge burden on families without health insurance or in families where it is difficult for a parent to take time off of work. Yes, I know there is FMLA - and I also know first hand how that works for low level employee or small business!

8. The Big M is engaging in questionable business practices promoting this vaccine. The same day Texas governor Rick Perry sidestepped the legislative process and signed an executive order requiring the vaccine for Texan girls, the Big M made a contribution to his campaign fund. The Big M contributed $40,000 to politicians in Virginia, where legislation is proposed also mandating the vaccine. In fact, the Big M has publicly pulled out of lobbying states to promote their new money maker (no word on what they're still doing privately).

Some more random thoughts on the Big M's concern for their patients vs. their concern for their profits:
The aforementioned Vioxx recall.

Children dying after receiving the rotavirus vaccine, again linked in previous paragraphs.

Lawsuits pending due to Fosamax (apparently, it kills your jawbone. Who knew? Not the public, those side effects weren't documented in a published study before the Big M flooded the market.) Link here. Oops, wrong link! That one goes to the pesky FDA memo requiring the Big M to stop their false advertising. Here's the right one.

Hepatitis A vaccine recalled, the Big M didn't bother to fill the syringes with the actual vaccine.
9. The Big M has completely sidestepped parental rights and duties, and headed straight for quick legislation to require their product be given to our kids. 94% of private health insurance companies will reimburse for this vaccination, but corporate greed has decided not to leave the decision in the hands of parents and guardians.

10. Female populations are only half of the equation. As far as I can tell, the vaccine wasn't even tested for effectiveness in males, who are the ones giving the HPV to the girls. HPV infects men as well, although there is not a test for males. The only way to tell if a man has HPV is if he has genital warts. HPV has been implicated in anal cancers and penile cancers, and the specific strains prevented by the G shot are directly linked to anal cancers in men. It seems to me that it would be even more important for men to be vaccinated, as there is really no way to tell if they are at risk for HPV cancers (women have Pap smears to alert them).

What can you do?
Protest, of course! Don't get the shot unless you have decided the benefit outweighs the risk.
Let your elected officials know you are concerned about legislating health care and eroding parental rights.

I am Catholic. I have a burden for proving religious exemption (in my state, I had to take a class and get a notarized document for my children, even the one not school aged, to be exempt. Apparently, in South Carolina, you are not allowed to exist if you have not been vaccinated). There is a church document called "Familiaris Consortio", by Pope John Paul II in 1981. It is an official document of the church (full text from Vatican website here.) It states that the right and duty of parents to direct their children's education cannot be entirely delegated or usurped by others.

Canon Law 1136 states that "Parents have the ...primary right to ensure their children's physical, social, cultural, moral and religious upbringing".
These are what I cite when a bureaucrat tries to tell me Catholics don't object to vaccines. The point being, Church Law specifically relegates those decisions to parents and specifically states that they can't be usurped by the state. So, Catholics believe it is the parents decision - that's our "religious belief".
Usually, if you start bringing out page after page of papal documents, the bureaucrat will just stamp you through and not even look at it. In America, as well, you don't have to be part of a big, mainstream denomination to be exempted - it is your personally held religious beliefs.

Here's another link to a Vatican document prepared specifically for parents wanting to opt out of vaccines created using aborted fetal cell lines:

It came out before the G shot, so that is not addressed. I couldn't find out if the G shot was created using human cell lines, but I'm working on it. The Big M is notorious for using the MRC-5 diploid human cell line, created from aborted fetal tissue, so this is a cause for concern.

Every one of us makes a difference if we stand up and oppose this. Even if it seems like we're the only ones!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 3/01/2007 08:06:00 AM | Permalink | |