Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Sickening Gardasil


Where the US leads, the UK meekly follows, and drugs are no exception. Last month the UK launched a major drive to offer the Gardasil vaccine, first launched in America six years ago, for all 11- to 18-year-old girls to prevent some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) purported to cause cervical cancer.

The UK government’s official line, as dutifully reported in the press, was that by replacing Cervarix, the HPV vaccine offered since 2008, the UK now had a superior vaccine on offer.

The press pounced on the news as evidence that the old Blair/Brown Labour government had been ‘penny-pinching’ by opting for the cheaper option, when there was this great alternative out there that not only prevented cervical cancer but also genital warts.

There has been much self-congratulation by Professor David Salisbury, the government’s Director of Immunization, about how the UK has put in place one of the best HPV vaccine programmes in the world. “Many women will no longer have to live through the worry and stress of follow-up after screening, including treatment for precancerous lesions,” he confidently announced.

What the UK government isn’t telling you—and what you won’t read anywhere but in the pages of What Doctors Don’t Tell Yous October issue (on sale Monday)—is the true story of America’s experience with the HPV vaccine.

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.

It’s an old advertising stalwart: invent the problem to sell the solution.     read on..

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