Sunday, March 25, 2007

The HPV Vaccine

There's been a big push for sixth grade girls to get this new HPV vaccine. Gee, I wonder who's behind that initiative?  Oh, wait, it's Merck, the giant drug company that invented the vaccine. Quelle surprise!

I wonder how that marketing meeting went? 

Herb, why don't you share your thinking with us. Thanks Al. Okay, everybody, you know that HPV vaccine we've been working on -- well, it has already cost us an arm and a leg to produce. We're into our fourth cost overrun. Melba in accounting made a slight miscalculation in the number of viruses we had to kill. Do you have any idea how many of those pesky bugs can cause cervical cancer? Sheesh, there's what? Eleven, twelve, eighteen? Polio and smallpox were nothing compared to this bunch.

The problem is our R and D guys couldn't get all the viruses into the loop. We got two of those bad boys, though. Bottomline, that means the vaccine only works about seventy percent of the time. There's a thirty per cent chance it won't do any good. However, no need to dwell on the negative.

The thing is how are we going to get grown women to pony up the big dough on this thing with those kinds of percentages. We're looking at a couple of hundred dollars at least for each of the shots.

Not to mention, when they find out that the damn stuff may not work a third of the time, those bitches will have us by the short hairs.

Know what I mean?

So, I'm proposing that we get the feds to make the vaccine mandatory for all virgins. For the good of the country. I know I know, there aren't that many left and it wouldn't be cost effective to track down those three or four women. So whaddya say we try sixth grade girls? Some of them still haven't had sex.

It shouldn't take much, all we have to do is make moms and dads think their precious little princesses are going to die of a terminal sexually transmitted disease unless they get the shots. Remember what a success we had with AIDS. Maybe we can even get Sanjaya to be our spokesperon.

You figure a couple of hundred bucks times every sixth grade girl in the country, and we're talking IPOsize moolah. Trust me, it's a slam dunk.

Thanks, Herb. I think you've made some persuasive arguments, so let's put it to a vote.  All in favor. . .

The most absurd arguments against the HPV vaccine are being propagated by the people who think it'll give little girls carte blanche to start having sex promiscuously. Mommy, now that I got the vaccine, can Billy and I engage in sexual intercourse after school today? 

An eleven year old girl's normal reaction to sex is EEEEEEWWW.  If you find one who's giving blowjobs and turning tricks at that age, it ain't because she got some vaccine.

The real problem is that a drug company is trying to foist a half baked, very expensive idea on the entire country, using the government to back them up.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is a major problem. Not here. Thanks to Pap tests. In fact, the vaccine still won't eliminate the need for regular Pap tests, which remain the best defense a woman has against cervical cancer.

Unless you want to be a nun. For years they couldn't figure out why nuns didn't get cervical cancer.



lacaza3 said...

ITs always about the money. I work in health care...its more about the money than helping the people...greedy ass DR, RX co. and whomever else dont have enough space to write everybody
Donna In TEXAS

screaminremo303 said...

"The real problem is that a drug company is trying to foist a half baked, very expensive idea on the entire country, using the government to back them up."

I didn't know Al Gore worked for Merck. One woman's HPV vaccine is another woman's disappearing glacier. Or something like that.

I have a lot of stocks in drug companies. Does that surprise you?

ksquester said...

Lobbiests (did I spell that right?) are very powerful in our country.  The insurance companies and the drug compaines are right up there with their hands stuck up the asses of "the asses" we elected.   Anne  p.s. I say bring back tar and feathering and run 'em out of town tied to a pole.  

ber144 said...

This is an interesting perspective that I hadn't considered.  I expected most of the nuts on the right to howl about the immorality of giving teenagers carte blanche to have sex and was wondering why that wasn't happening.  You've made me see the light-they're "in bed" (nyuk) with the drug companies.  Money before morals.

I don't know. On one hand it seems fine to me to eliminate potentially 70% of the prospects for the disease. On the other, I'm getting kind of tired of being told what to do.  The solution for me will be not to have any daughters.

And I just assured myself that I will have about seven.

eilenbug said...

Our own TX Gov, Rick Perry, tried to make it mandatory!!  Merck was SO forthcoming on the Vioxx deal.....why not trust them with 6th grade girls?  Gawd.... Turns out the deal smells to high heaven.....and cost nearly $400 a pop!  Who wins?  MERCK.....

mombzbe said...

I agree, Mrs L, that drug companies are not always in it for the peoples.

However, HPV is more than an inconvenience, it is something that threatens fertility and can cause cervical cancer on down the road.  

You're a smart cookie, surely you understand that a family of viruses is going to change and evolve at will; 70% is not all that shoddy of a percent effectiveness, imho.  When you consider that cervical cancer is like the second or third most common cancer in women, and that the cancer is helped along via persistent infection with HPV, then 70% doesn't look so bad at all.

Also, it's been quite a while since I have been in an immunology class, and I may stand corrected on this, but I think that vaccine development focuses on the viruses and their components that are MOST likely to cause infection.  Perhaps not all HPV is created equal, and the strains chosen were the ones that were seen in association with cancer overall as opposed to others that may not be so--infectious/strong.  Or those not chosen may be rarer in the population as a whole.  
It's like flu vaccine--it's made each year based on what strain is anticipated to be the most infectious in that given year.  It is not effective for ALL strains of flu, just ask your neighbor who got the vaccine but came down with the flu anyway.

Perhaps in the future, the HPV vaccine will be tweaked to include all the strains.
Until then....   And it sucks that they are charging so much for it, and that it's not one shot, but a series of shots (3).

I hate the way it's being marketed, and find it ridiculous that there is some moral "the girls will go wild" backlash going on with it.  The reason they are giving it to girls who aren't sexually active, I think, is because it is so prevalent in the population already, and giving the vaccine once someone has been exposed/infected is like shutting the barn door after the barn has caught fire.

jevanslink said...

From what I read, the incidence of cervical cancer is pretty high WORLDWIDE.

However, the incidence is around one percent in this country, among those who have been exposed to HPV. That's because we have PAP smears which can catch it early if a woman gets her test regularly, Third world countries don't.

Paps will still be needed to catch the cancer causing HPV that isn't included in the vaccine.  The vaccine goes after the two viruses that cause 70 percent of the cancers.  There are at least a dozen more that also cause the other thirty percent.

The reason you can't get the vaccine if you're over 26 has more to do with the ages of the women the vaccine has been tested on, not because it's too late.  The FDA set the guidelines based on testing demographics primarily.  It may be that the vaccine would be useful even if a woman has been infected with HPV. But no one has tested it on older women.

Frankly, they should have a test for sexually active women to determine which, if any, HPV they've been exposed to along with which particular ones.  Then a woman would know whether the vaccine would do her any good.  

Also. if I read the information correctly, they don't seem to be worried about the vaccine becoming ineffective because of mutations. It's a DNA based vaccine and not RNA. Unlike the flu vaccines.

This is information I got from the medical link you sent me. Thanks.

Mrs. L

acoward15 said...

Money makes the world go round, not common sense!

mymaracas said...

Well said and spot on. Great post!


swibirun said...

I think you really hit on a important point on how the big push for the HPV vaccine is being contested as a right vs. wrong thing to do instead of questioning whether it is factually and medically something we should do.  I didn't know that it only covered such a narrow range of the virus until I read your post.  very good entry, Mrs. L.

Have a great weekend!

jevanslink said...

Some lady doc was on Oprah last week saying there were FOUR viruses covered by the vaccine.  I got my information from a medical site.  From a presentation to doctors by other doctors.  So take your pick.

Mrs. L

mymaracas said...

Even though the vaccine covers only four strains of virus, it's worth considering that two of those strains, 16 and 18, cause 70% of all cervical cancers; the other two, 6 and 11, cause 90% of all genital warts. Over 99% of cervical cancers are relate to HPVs. I'm just sayin'.

(Source:, The American Cancer Society)

jevanslink said...

What I'm saying is that there's a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies to get the government to require girls to get the HPV vaccine for the financial gain of the companies.

The vaccine should be optional.  It should be offered to boys.  It should be offered free to women in third world countries where cervical cancer is a real problem because they don't have Pap tests.  

AND the vaccine should be more than 90 per cent effective, not just 70 per cent.  

Mrs. L