A patient posted this on our Facebook Page. She wanted to see if we had any
thoughts on the issue. Have any of you heard anything on this woman Dr.
Here is another link to CBS
By Joan Robinson and Steven W. Mosher
- Weekly Briefing: 2009
On the morning of 2 October 2009, one of us (Joan) joined an audience of
mostly health professionals and listened as Dr. Diane Harper, the leading
international developer of the HPV vaccines, gave a sales pitch for
Gardasil. Gardasil, as you may know, is the new vaccine that is supposed to
confer protection against four strains of the sexually transmitted Human
Dr. Harper came to the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination
to prove to us the real benefits of Gardasil. Sadly, her own presentation
left me (Joan) and others filled with doubts. By her own admission,
Gardasil has the doctors surrounding me glaring at a poor promise of
efficacy as a vaccine married to a high risk of life-threatening side
Gardasil, Dr. Harper explained, is promoted by Merck, the pharmaceutical
manufacturer, as a “safe and effective” prevention measure against cervical
cancer. The theory behind the vaccine is that, as HPV may cause cervical
cancer, conferring a greater immunity of some strains of HPV might reduce
the incidence of this form of cancer. In pursuit of this goal, tens of
millions of American girls have been vaccinated to date.
As I sat scribbling down Merck’s claims, I wondered why such mass
vaccination campaigns were necessary. After all, as Dr. Harper explained,
70% of HPV infections resolve themselves without treatment in one year.
After two years, this rate climbs to 90%. Of the remaining 10% of HPV
infections, only half coincide with the development of cervical cancer.
Dr. Harper further undercut the case for mass vaccination campaigns in the
U.S. when she pointed out that “4 out of 5 women with cervical cancer are
in developing countries.” (Harper serves as a consultant to the World
Health Organization (WHO) for HPV vaccination in the developing world.)
Indeed, she surprised her audience by stating that the incidence of
cervical cancer in the U.S. is so low that “if we get the vaccine and
continue PAP screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in
If this is the case, I thought, then why vaccinate at all? From the murmurs
of the doctors in the audience, it was apparent that the same thought had
occurred to them.
In the U.S. the cervical cancer rate is 8 per 100,000
it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. The current death rate
from cervical cancer is between 1.6 to 3.7 deaths per 100,000
American Cancer Society (ACS) notes that “between 1955 and 1992, the
cervical cancer death rate declined by 74%” and adds that “the death rate
from cervical cancer continues to decline by nearly 4% each
At this point, I began to wriggle around in my seat, uncomfortably
wondering, is the vaccine really effective? Using data from trials funded
by Merck, Dr. Harper cheerfully continued to demolish the case for the
vaccine that she was ostensibly there to promote. She informed us that
“with the use of Gardasil, there will be no decrease in cervical cancer
until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated, and in that case, the
decrease will be very minimal. The highest amount of minimal decrease will
appear in 60 years.”
It is hard to imagine a less compelling case for Gardasil. First of all, it
is highly unlikely that 70% or more of the female population will continue
to get routine Gardasil shots and boosters, along with annual PAP smears.
And even if it did, according to Dr. Harper, “after 60 years, the
vaccination will [only] have prevented 70% of incidences” of cervical
But rates of death from cervical cancer are already declining. Let’s do the
math. If the 4% annual decline in cervical cancer death continues, in 60
years there will have been a 91.4% decline in cervical cancer death just
from current cancer monitoring and treatment. Comparing this rate of
decline to Gardasil’s projected “very minimal” reduction in the rate of
cervical cancer of only 70 % of incidences in 60 years, it is hard to
resist the conclusion that Gardasil does almost nothing for the health of
Despite these dismal projections, Gardasil continues to be widely and
aggressively promoted among pre-teen girls. The CDC reports that, by 1 June
2009, over 26 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the
hopes of soon tapping the adolescent male demographic, Merck, the
pharmaceutical manufacturer of the vaccine, and certain Merck-funded U.S.
medical organizations are targeting girls between the ages of 9 and
CBS news reports, “Gardasil, launched in 2006 for girls and young women,
quickly became one of Merck's top-selling vaccines, thanks to aggressive
marketing and attempts to get states to require girls to get the vaccine as
a requirement for school
Just as I began, in my own mind, to question ethics of mass vaccinations of
prepubescent girls, Dr. Harper dropped another bombshell. “There have been
no efficacy trials in girls under 15 years,” she told us.
Merck did study a small group of girls under 16 who had been vaccinated,
but did not follow them long enough to conclude sufficient presence of
effective HPV antibodies.
If I wasn’t skeptical enough already, I really started scratching my head
when Dr. Harper explained, “if you vaccinate a child, she won’t keep
immunity in puberty and you do nothing to prevent cervical cancer.” But it
turned out that she wasn’t arguing for postponing Gardasil vaccination
until later puberty, as I first thought. Rather, Dr. Harper only emphasized
to the doctors in the audience the need for Gardasil booster shots, because
it is still unknown how long the vaccine immunity lasts. More booster shots
mean more money for Merck, obviously.
I left Dr. Harper’s lecture convinced that Gardasil did little to stop
cervical cancer, and determined to answer another question that she had
largely ducked: Is this vaccine safe?
Here’s what my research turned up. To date, 15,037 girls have officially
reported adverse side effects from Gardasil to the Vaccine Adverse Event
Reporting System (VAERS). These adverse effects include Guilliane Barre,
lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain inflammation and many
others. The CDC acknowledges that there have been 44 reported
Dr. Harper, who seems to specialize in dropping bombshells, dropped another
in an interview with ABC News when she admitted that “The rate of serious
adverse events is greater than the incidence rate of cervical
being the case, one might want to take one’s chances with cancer,
especially because the side effects of the vaccine are immediate, while the
possibility of developing cancer is years in the future.
In the clinical studies alone, 23 girls died after receiving either
Gardasil or the Aluminum control injection. 15 of the 13,686 girls who
received Gardasil died, while 8 died among the 11,004 who received the
Aluminum shot. There was only one death among the group that had a saline
placebo. What this means is that 1 out of every 912 who received Gardasil
in the study died.9, see p.
cervical cancer death rate is 1 out of every 40,000 women per
The numbers of deaths and adverse effects are undoubtedly underestimates.
Dr. Harper’s comments to ABC News concur with the National Vaccine
Information Center’s claim that “though nearly 70 percent of all Gardasil
reaction reports were filed by Merck, a whopping 89 percent of the reports
Merck did file were so incomplete there was not enough information for
health officials to do a proper follow-up and
average, less than 10 percent—perhaps even less than 1 percent—of serious
vaccine adverse events are ever reported, according to the American Journal
of Public Health.12
Given the severity and frequency of Gardasil adverse reactions, I
definitely wasn’t the only one in Dr. Harper’s audience who winced when she
dismissed most Gardasil side effects as “easily just needle phobia.”
Due to the young age of the trial participants and the short duration of
the studies, the effects of Gardasil on female fecundity have not been
studied. I did discover, in my post-conference reading, that Polysorbate
80, an ingredient in the vaccine,13, see p.
been observed in a European clinical study to cause infertility in
this an additional concern? Time will tell.
I do not wish to give the impression that Dr. Harper presented, even
inadvertently, a consistently negative view of her own vaccine. She did
tout certain “real benefits,” chief among them that “the vaccine will
reduce the number of follow-up tests after abnormal PAP smears,” and
thereby reduce the “relationship tension,” “stress and anxiety” of abnormal
or false HPV positive results.
To me, however, this seems a rather slim promise, especially when weighed
against the deaths and side effects caused by the Gardasil campaign. Should
millions of girls in the United States, many as young as 9, be put at risk,
so that sexually active adults can have less “relationship tension” about
false positive HPV results? Is the current rate of death, sterility and
serious immune dysfunction from Gardasil worth the potential that in 60
years a minimal amount of a cervical disease (that is already decreasing on
its own) may perhaps be reduced?
But what I really wanted to know is why Merck is so eagerly marketing such
a dangerous and ineffective vaccine? Aren’t there other ways they could
make a profit? While Merck’s behavior is probably adequately explained by
the profit motive, what about those in the Health and Human Services
bureaucracy who apparently see Gardasil as medicine’s gift to women? What
I (Steve) think that they see Gardasil as what one might call a “wedge”
drug. For them, the success of this public vaccination campaign has less to
do with stopping cervical cancer, than it does with opening the door to
other vaccination campaigns for other sexually transmitted diseases, and
perhaps even including pregnancy itself. For if they can overcome the
objections of parents and religious organizations to vaccinating
pre-pubescent—and not sexually active--girls against one form of STD, then
it will make it easier for them to embark on similar programs in the future.
After all, the proponents of sexual liberation are determined not to let
mere disease—or even death—stand in the way of their pleasures. They
believe that there must be technological solutions to the diseases that
have arisen from their relentless promotion of promiscuity. After all, the
alternative is too horrible to contemplate: They might have to learn to
control their appetites. And they might have to teach abstinence.
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