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Missed shot: Is cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil just a bogus money-making product?

Gardasil is the world’s second-best-selling vaccine. But a growing number of health officials feel this HPV vaccine is not the safest, or the most effective, to say the least.

Gardasil, owned by pharmaceutical giant Merck, has been in controversy since the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine in 2006. Since then, there’s a growing body of health care specialists, who have been pointing to the controversial effects of Gardasil, is spite of reassurances from physicians and commercials. Parents are advised by physicians to vaccinate girls as young as age 9.

Gardasil is given as a series of three shots over 6 months to protect against HPV infection and its associated health problems.

Dr Bernard Dalbergue, a physician who had worked with Merck, raised his voice against the vaccine. In April 2014, Dr Dalberque was quoted by the French magazine Principes de Santé (Health Principles), that Gardasil “will go down in history as one of the greatest medical scandals of all time” because it’s is “useless” and costly.

Another doctor who raised her voice against the HPV vaccine is Dr Diane Harper, who had helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved. She agreed to participate in the ONE MORE GIRL documentary, in an answer to Merck’s ‘One Less Girl’ marketing campaign for Gardasil.

Dr Harper
Truth serum: Dr Bernard Dalbergue (right), is an ex- employee of Merck, who raised his voice against Gardasil. Dr Diane Harper (left), a consultant to Merck, has pointed out the negative aspects of the vaccine.

In an earlier article, we had spoken how Path, a Bill Gates-led NGO, was instrumental in testing the HPV (human papilla virus) on 30,000 unsuspecting Indian girls from the economically poorer section of the society.

Cancer of the cervix is the most frequent ailment among Indian women. According to WHO data, 134,000 Indian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Around 70,000, or more than half of those diagnosed, die from it. No wonder, global medicine makers found India suitable for their tests.

Aman Dhawan is one of many youngsters who took part in the HPV vaccine trial without being aware they had been signed up to test Merck’s new Gardasil 9 drug

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India had pulled up medicine makers Merck and Glaxo Smith Kline for unethical testing on the girls. The supplemental affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court states that Merck and/or their representatives violated basic human rights. The vaccine trial was carried out at government hospitals, even though this was a privately sponsored trial of Merck, thereby misusing the trust people put in state-sponsored vaccination programmes.

The parents and children, who hailed from an economically weaker section, were lied to that they were getting a free vaccine from abroad that would cost Rs 10,000 in the market. In truth, Gardasil was not approved for marketing anywhere in the world at the time the tests were conducted. Most importantly, none of the participants were informed that they were participating in a clinical trial.

A schoolgirl receives HPV vaccine in India

But all the complaints filed against PATH and Merck didn’t shake the company. When the government called for a halt to any more vaccine trials relating to HPV, Merck flouted the decree. May be they believed they could buy or sway the court verdict.

Scandal, misinformation, and data manipulation are related to clinical research and medicine development. It is imperative that we learn to chaff hearsay from facts. Else, we will merely become money-making live projects for unethical experiments.

About the author

Rubi

Whether it’s women issues, politics or the paranormal, Rubi has an opinion on everything. Art and entertainment interest her, too. Hindu College alumni, she has written for The Hindustan Times and The Financial Express. Every now and then, she loves picking up her camera to capture life and its various shades.

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