Besides the unexpected public outcry, there may have been another reason why Merck curtailed its lobbying efforts to make Gardasil mandatory for teens.
The stuff may not even work very well.
The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story today questioning the efficacy of Merck’s new cervical cancer vaccine. The story covers all the key issues: the relative rarity of the disease; how it’s been reduced by 80 percent in the U.S. through Pap smears; and the relatively low 70 percent effectiveness rate of the new vaccine. One key detail new to me: Merck cancelled its lobbying push in the states after consulting with key members of the Centers for Disease Control advisory committee and the American Academy of Pediatrics that had recommended the vaccine. They told the company that it was too soon to make the vaccine mandatory.
The story was also notable in pointing out that all the cost-effectiveness studies arguing that the vaccine would reduce health system costs (fewer Pap tests and fewer cancers down the road versus the multi-billion upfront costs of the vaccine) were funded by the companies that made the vaccine.