Thursday, May 24, 2007

Serious Adverse Events Linked to the HPV Vaccine

A watchdog group is reporting a number of serous issues with the HPV vaccine. Judicial Watch
released documents obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, detailing 1,637 reports of adverse reactions to the vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), Gardasil. Three deaths were related to the vaccine. One physician’s assistant reported that a female patient “died of a blood clot three hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine.” Two other reports, on girls 12 and 19, reported deaths relating to heart problems and/or blood clotting.

These reports certainly question the safety of the vaccine. I've been particularly concerned about the vaccine's maker, Merk, trying to push states to make the vaccine mandatory. This vaccine is very expensive and Merk stands to make a lot of money if they can get the states to fund it. I think this vaccine was fast tracked to market with limited testing. Any one thinking about getting this vaccine really must be cautious.


mhatrw said...

To summarize this published, peer-reviewed medical journal article:

1. In the FUTURE I trial, GARDASIL demonstrated no clinical efficacy among the general subject population for overall reduction in the rates of grade 2 and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma — the only recognized precursors to cervical cancer.

2. In the larger FUTURE II trial, GARDASIL demonstrated no clinical efficacy among the general subject population for overall reduction in the rates of grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma — the strongest (and many would argue only valid) precursors to cervical cancer.

3. GARDASIL’s protection against cancer associated HPV strains 16 and 18 appears to cause a disproportionate increase in of pre-cancerous dysplasias associated with other HPV strains associated with cervical cancer “raising the possibility that other oncogenic HPV types eventually filled the biologic niche left behind after the elimination of HPV types 16 and 18.”

4. Even if look only at the FUTURE II results (in which for some reason GARDASIL performed better among the general female population), we are talking about just a 17% decrease in all high grade dysplasias — many of which would spontaneously regress without treatment. So we would have vaccinate 129 women (at about $500 for the three shot regimen) to avoid a single, eminently treatable dysplasia. That’s about $60,000 per dysplasia prevented.

This is all directly from the article linked above.

I myself would add that the use of a highly pharmacologically alum adjuvant as the sole "placebo" in both the FUTURE I & FUTURE II studies makes it impossible to accurately assess the overall risks of vaccination vs. non-vaccination in the real world. Furthermore, the fact that GARDASIL has been studied for safety in just a few hundred pre-teens (again using an alum injection as the "placebo") is highly problematic.

Finally, even though we don't have any decent quantitative numbers concerning GARDASIL's safety (especially on a pre-teen population), we must consider that vaccines in general are not 100% safe. They can cause juvenile arthritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome and other major complications (such as temporary paralysis, fainting, and persistent pain, swelling and itching) in a small subset of the population. Vaccines are not like other medicines in that they are given to a lot of healthy people who would not otherwise contract any disease with or without vaccination. So vaccines must be reasonably effective for their benefits to outweigh their associated risks.

Valerie said...

Thanks for mentioning that study. I had commented on that on an earlier post. I linked to a LA Times story on the medical article for those who don't want to crawl through the medical study.