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A doctor's response: Risks, costs of HPV vaccine far outweigh any benefit

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A commentary in the June 16 News Tribune, written and endorsed by area board-certified pediatricians, oncologists and obstetricians/gynecologists, promoted the universal use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for pre-teen and teen-age girls (A Doctor’s View: “Simple vaccine can prevent cancer’s suffering”).The commentary appeared to be a part of a worldwide, billion-dollar promotion campaign to get the world’s young women, even in poor, Third World nations, more fully vaccinated. The huge amount of money behind the massive effort comes from one of the most profitable, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck. In 2006, after only three to five years of clinical trials, the FDA approved for marketing the most expensive vaccine in the history of the world, Gardasil, which has been proclaimed as preventative for cancer of the cervix, a claim that was never proved and which has, to date, not prevented a single case of cervical cancer.The premise that the vaccine could prevent cancer was presented by Merck investigators to the FDA, then to American physicians, and now to their patients. The premise was based on findings made by investigators deeply conflicted by their financial involvement with Merck in that they were employees, had shares in the company or had received honoraria or grants to get the product to market and promote the vaccine any way they could.Gardasil’s competitor (and collaborator when it comes to promoting the notion that a vaccine directed at the HPV can prevent cancer) is the British multinational pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, whose HPV vaccine is called Cervarix.Scandalously, the truth of the matter is that neither company’s vaccine has ever prevented a single cancer of the cervix, mainly because cancer of the cervix takes 20 to 50 years to develop, and the vaccine corporations only clinically tested the product prior to FDA approval for less than five years.What the industry-sponsored studies showed in their relatively brief trials was that the vaccines produced transient anti-HPV immune complexes in most of the young female vaccine recipients and that there were modest reductions in the development of abnormal Pap smears that, in the vast majority of cases, disappear by themselves anyway. Ninety-nine percent of patients infected with HPV resolve spontaneously.The antigens in these alarmingly expensive and hugely profitable (for Big Pharma and many medical clinics) vaccines are genetically engineered proteins that, thanks to the neurotoxic aluminum adjuvant in each dose, can cause serious autoimmune disorders and unknown levels of potentially serious mitochondrial damage. (It also needs to be mentioned that each of the three shots in the series costs around $140 plus office call charges.)The June 16 commentary contained all of the talking points that Merck, Glaxo, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the oncology trade journals and the OB/GYN trade associations use to promote these vaccines around the world. But it mentioned none of the many serious downsides. Those concerns should also be provided to prospective patients and their parents so they can make a fully informed consent or refusal with respect to the treatment prescribed.One useful statistical measure that some medical investigators use is the “Number Needed to Treat,” or NNT, which is one way to quickly state the effectiveness of a treatment. It indicates how many patients have to be treated before one patient can be said to have benefitted from the treatment. For instance, the NNT for a course of penicillin for penicillin-sensitive streptococcal pharyngitis is one, meaning that one cure occurs for every one course of treatment. If a treatment results in only half of patients benefitting, the NNT is two (the inverse of the fraction 1/2). The smaller the NNT, the more beneficial the treatment.An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (co-authored by four investigators, three of whom were either employees of one of Merck’s Canadian subsidiaries or had received money, honoraria or grants from vaccine companies) stated that for Gardasil, the Number Needed to Vaccinate (same principle as the NNT) to prevent four or five cases of cervical cancer for a typical 12-year-old girl would be 9,080, meaning that 9,075 girls would be risking the serious adverse health consequences of Gardasil (many of which are only recently coming to light, including autoimmune disorders), not to mention the financial burdens while still not receiving the alleged benefit, the prevention of cervical cancer.Physicians are never informed of NNT or NNV statistics, but patients deserve to know the numbers before embarking on any recommended treatment program. What Merck has done to promote Gardasil in the deceptive “Not One More” campaign makes parents - and, obviously, physicians - truly believe the claim Gardasil will prevent cancer. In actuality, the risks and costs come nowhere near outweighing the alleged benefit. Gary G. Kohls is a retired medical doctor in Duluth.
A commentary in the June 16 News Tribune, written and endorsed by area board-certified pediatricians, oncologists and obstetricians/gynecologists, promoted the universal use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for pre-teen and teen-age girls (A Doctor’s View: “Simple vaccine can prevent cancer’s suffering”).The commentary appeared to be a part of a worldwide, billion-dollar promotion campaign to get the world’s young women, even in poor, Third World nations, more fully vaccinated. The huge amount of money behind the massive effort comes from one of the most profitable, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck. In 2006, after only three to five years of clinical trials, the FDA approved for marketing the most expensive vaccine in the history of the world, Gardasil, which has been proclaimed as preventative for cancer of the cervix, a claim that was never proved and which has, to date, not prevented a single case of cervical cancer.The premise that the vaccine could prevent cancer was presented by Merck investigators to the FDA, then to American physicians, and now to their patients. The premise was based on findings made by investigators deeply conflicted by their financial involvement with Merck in that they were employees, had shares in the company or had received honoraria or grants to get the product to market and promote the vaccine any way they could.Gardasil’s competitor (and collaborator when it comes to promoting the notion that a vaccine directed at the HPV can prevent cancer) is the British multinational pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, whose HPV vaccine is called Cervarix.Scandalously, the truth of the matter is that neither company’s vaccine has ever prevented a single cancer of the cervix, mainly because cancer of the cervix takes 20 to 50 years to develop, and the vaccine corporations only clinically tested the product prior to FDA approval for less than five years.What the industry-sponsored studies showed in their relatively brief trials was that the vaccines produced transient anti-HPV immune complexes in most of the young female vaccine recipients and that there were modest reductions in the development of abnormal Pap smears that, in the vast majority of cases, disappear by themselves anyway. Ninety-nine percent of patients infected with HPV resolve spontaneously.The antigens in these alarmingly expensive and hugely profitable (for Big Pharma and many medical clinics) vaccines are genetically engineered proteins that, thanks to the neurotoxic aluminum adjuvant in each dose, can cause serious autoimmune disorders and unknown levels of potentially serious mitochondrial damage. (It also needs to be mentioned that each of the three shots in the series costs around $140 plus office call charges.)The June 16 commentary contained all of the talking points that Merck, Glaxo, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the oncology trade journals and the OB/GYN trade associations use to promote these vaccines around the world. But it mentioned none of the many serious downsides. Those concerns should also be provided to prospective patients and their parents so they can make a fully informed consent or refusal with respect to the treatment prescribed.One useful statistical measure that some medical investigators use is the “Number Needed to Treat,” or NNT, which is one way to quickly state the effectiveness of a treatment. It indicates how many patients have to be treated before one patient can be said to have benefitted from the treatment. For instance, the NNT for a course of penicillin for penicillin-sensitive streptococcal pharyngitis is one, meaning that one cure occurs for every one course of treatment. If a treatment results in only half of patients benefitting, the NNT is two (the inverse of the fraction 1/2). The smaller the NNT, the more beneficial the treatment.An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (co-authored by four investigators, three of whom were either employees of one of Merck’s Canadian subsidiaries or had received money, honoraria or grants from vaccine companies) stated that for Gardasil, the Number Needed to Vaccinate (same principle as the NNT) to prevent four or five cases of cervical cancer for a typical 12-year-old girl would be 9,080, meaning that 9,075 girls would be risking the serious adverse health consequences of Gardasil (many of which are only recently coming to light, including autoimmune disorders), not to mention the financial burdens while still not receiving the alleged benefit, the prevention of cervical cancer.Physicians are never informed of NNT or NNV statistics, but patients deserve to know the numbers before embarking on any recommended treatment program. What Merck has done to promote Gardasil in the deceptive “Not One More” campaign makes parents - and, obviously, physicians - truly believe the claim Gardasil will prevent cancer. In actuality, the risks and costs come nowhere near outweighing the alleged benefit.Gary G. Kohls is a retired medical doctor in Duluth.

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