Earlier this month, Dr. Diane Harper stirred up discussion with her remarks about Gardasil, a vaccine manufactured by major pharmaceutical company Merck used to prevent the human papilloma virus (HPV) at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination. According to a report by The Bulletin, Dr. Harper, who was the lead researcher for Gardasil and Cervarix and is the director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, stated that the drugs will do little to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. She went further to say that despite the fact that the drugs were recommended for young girls, there have been no clinical trials for girls under the age of 15.
What was surprising was that while Dr. Harper was speaking at the conference to promote the vaccine, many of her statements casted doubt on the utility of the drugs. According to Gardasil, there are four types of HPV. HPV 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, while HPV 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases. While Gardasil has been promoted as an effective against HPV, Dr. Harper stated that 70 percent of all HPV cases treat themselves within a year, and 90% after two years. Only half of the remaining 10 percent develop into cervical cancer. Dr. Harper went further, stating that the incidence of cervical in the U.S. is very low, with four out of five women with cervical cancer living in developing countries. She also revealed that while Merck followed a group of girls under 16 years of age, it did not follow them long enough to draw conclusions as to the sufficiency of the presence of HPV antibodies.
The subject of vaccinations has been a hot topic lately, and in this case, one that South Florida women should be mindful of. The Bulletin article noted that since Gardasil’s inception in 2006, 15,037 girls reported adverse effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), including lupus, paralysis, brain inflammation, and blood clots. The Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) stated that there have been 44 reported deaths.
When considering taking a vaccine or any kind of medication, it is important that you always gather as much information as possible. Talk to your physician about your concerns and the possible side effects of taking certain vaccinations or medications and pay attention to reports and studies, both positive and negative, on these medications.