Investors Beware: Vaccines Continue to Be Controversial
By Staff News & Analysis - June 22, 2013

Does the HPV vaccine work? … Vaccinating pubescent girls with the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardisil holds no guarantee that they won't get cervical cancer as adults. "It will provide some years of protection from HPV infection, but there is nothing to say that cancers will be prevented." The frightening claim was made by Dr Diane Harper, a well known US researcher and educator in the field of HPV in an exclusive interview with the Express. – Trinidad Express

Dominant Social Theme: There is no vaccine controversy and they ought to be made mandatory.

Free-Market Analysis: Big Pharma is big business, some of the biggest business around – and increasingly on the Internet and even in the mainstream its methods of operations are being questioned.

One way companies turn a profit while avoiding the scrutiny of Western media is to take products and market them aggressively in the developing world where consumer protections are often not well established and government support can often ensure a commercial success, at least in the short term.

But as we can see from this article in the Trinidad Express, the controversy over certain vaccines has not dimmed just because those medicines are being administered beyond Europe and the US.

In fact, as more and more medical disasters are revealed, lawsuits mount and one begins to think that Big Pharma could go the way of the cigarette industry, which didn't deal properly with negative publicity and over time lost considerable equity value – and eventually whole companies.

Here's more from the article, reporting on a sometime critic of the vaccines, Dr. Harper – who participated in the creation of them, as well:

Dr Harper, a lead researcher in Merck Pharmaceuticals' Gardasil clinical trials, will be in Trinidad on June 14 and 15 for the World Congress of Families Conference hosted by the Elpis Centre and co sponsored by the World Congress of Families.

Harper said research done on women who received the HPV vaccine showed no antibody titers left in 35 per cent of women within five years of being vaccinated for HPV 18; and for HPV 16 after 8.5 years, 15 per cent of women have no remaining antibody protection against HPV 16 infections.

Gardasil is used in the prevention of HPV strains 6, 11, 16 and 18. Since the vaccine was introduced in Trinidad and Tobago it has not been without controversy. Earlier this year, citing lack of proper information and controversy surrounding the vaccine, the Catholic Education Board of management (CEBM) and other denominational boards protested the coming on stream of the Ministry of Health's vaccination programme.

By February the board changed its mind and the Ministry of Health's vaccination programme was rolled out giving parents the option to sign up for the vaccination. The Ministry spent $6 million to include the drug in the health sector. As girls continue to be vaccinated against HPV across this country, Harper said pap smear testing is the only way to prevent cervical cancer.

… According to Harper, not all women with HPV develop cervical cancer. 90 per cent of high risk HPV infected women, she said, clear the virus on their own within three years and their cervical cells go back to normal. "We do not know what makes HPV clear and what makes HPV stay. We know that smoking tobacco is not helpful in clearing HPV. We know that condom use helps to prevent the spread of HPV (condom use is not 100 per cent protective)."

Dr Harper, who has developed and has directed the Gynaecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group, which focuses on cervical cancer prevention and HPV associated diseases, said parents of young girls have to also be aware that no vaccine is completely harmless adding that there is a small number of "Gardasil Girls" who have had life-changing neurological effects from the drug.

This last point makes clear the difficulties that critics like Dr. Harper have had in various educational campaigns. As far back as 2009 she was making a strong argument against these vaccines – but then reportedly after pressure was brought against her, she retracted.


Now she continues to speak out, but in doing so she has reduced the level of her rhetoric considerably, and seeks to reassure potential recipients of the vaccines even as she downplays their necessity. In fact, the record speaks clearly to a more alarmist perspective. The article continues as follows:

The [US] Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last month revealed that its national Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme (VICP) has awarded $5,877,710 US dollars to 49 victims in claims made against the highly controversial HPV vaccine.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), used by the Food and Drug Administration to monitor the safety of vaccines, reported that between September 1, 2010 and September 15, 2011, there were 26 deaths of young, healthy girls who took the Gardasil vaccine a year prior to their deaths. Merck Pharmaceuticals, in response to the report, said there was no way to prove that the vaccination was responsible for the deaths.

Seizures, blindness, speech problems and Guillain-Barre Syndrome were some of what young girls experienced after taking the vaccine, the report said. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, who just returned from the World Health Organisation's (WHO), rubbished claims made by Dr Harper and said he stands behind Gardasil as a safe vaccine.

"Gardasil has the full backing of the WHO and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), and is lauded as a prevention vaccine for cervical cancer." Dr Khan said negative comments about vaccines is nothing new and that parents were against the Measles vaccine because it was said to be linked to autism.

… Dr Khan said the vaccination drive across the country has been successful. The education drive for HPV continues for parents still unsure of how the disease affects their daughters and will remain a voluntary vaccine programme.

We can see once again conflicting reports regarding vaccines. The difference between vaccines and tobacco is that the medical establishment seems firmly aligned with the interests of Big Pharma and thus news reports in the mainstream and alternative news media are often countered forcefully by doctors and other medial officials.

Nonetheless, despite all the efforts of Big Pharma and the medical community to put a damper on pharmaceutical controversies, especially regarding vaccines, arguments persist.

These are not hypothetical arguments, either, but can result in lawsuits and even massive payouts. But beyond the damage being done by lawsuits, there are surely larger concerns for investors and pharmaceutical players alike to consider.

In particular, when it comes to vaccines, there seems to be a certain group of children – a percentage anyway – that are prone to bad reactions when it comes to vaccines. Leaving aside the larger issue of vaccine efficacy, an issue that will surely be considered sooner or later is whether these children ought to be identified and whether protocols can be created to do so.

The trouble with vaccines in the era of the Internet is that while increasingly people are aware of problems with vaccines, the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry have taken a rigorous stance that precludes any admission anywhere that vaccines can ever be troublesome, let alone deadly.

Issues regarding drugs generally and vaccines in particular are not going to go away just because the pharmaceutical industry refuses to address them and the medical community backs this ploy.

After Thoughts

In fact, this "stonewall" technique will eventually undermine the credibility of the entire medical establishment, in our humble view – and that will certainly have a further impact on the bottom line of the industry.

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