Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jim Edwards Continues to Beat the Mandatory Gardasil Vaccination Dead Horse

Jim Edwards over at BrandweekNRX makes a fantastically inaccurate claim that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is taking his side on mandatory Gardasil vaccinations:

"Not that I want to rehash this debate, but it’s nice to know that the CDC took my position and not my opponents’," says Jim (see "Claim: Merck Will Lose $130 Million a Year on Gardasil by Stopping Its Controversial Lobbying").

Jim, if you didn't want a rehash, why'd you start it?

You are not accurately portraying the facts when you say that CDC is taking your position and not your opponents'. Since you link to my comments here (see "Holy War in Pharma Blogosphere Over Gardasil!") as one of your opponents, I'll have to respond.

Your position --- and correct me if I am wrong -- is that Gardasil vaccination should be MANDATED by the states. That is, it should be required of all girls of a certain age before they can enroll in grade school.

The CDC merely is making the vaccine available to eligible girls, it is not MANDATING anything. Your readers should read the Merck press release you link to, which says, in part:

"Eligible adolescents may [my emphasis] receive recommended vaccines through VFC once the CDC contracts for the purchase of the vaccine, a process that is now complete."

Note that the word "may" is not equivalent to "must".

CDC's VFC program helps families by providing free vaccines to doctors who serve eligible children and is administered at the national level by the CDC through the National Immunization Program. CDC contracts with vaccine manufacturers to buy vaccines at reduced rates.

This is very much different than a mandatory program.

The CDC stance, in fact, is closer to my position than yours; namely, the Gardasil vaccine should be made available to all girls who desire to have it, and at a price they can afford, but vaccinations should not be required by state mandate.

P.S. I think Jim threw down this gauntlet knowing full-well that I would respond and thus raise BrandweekNRX to the number 1 position on The Pharma Blogosphere Topics List, beating out Peter Rost!


Anonymous said...

Actually, I thougt the CDC position was, as you state, "the Gardasil vaccine should be made available to all girls who desire to have it, and at a price they can afford." No "but" on the end. Reason: pressure and internal dissent as some within the CDC (and ACIP) very much believe it should be mandatory, but recognize the political reality of the current leadership. There was some very heated debate at NFID about 2 years ago on this very topic and, at that time, CDC was leaning mandatory.

PharmaGuy said...

A lot of people may have been leaning towards mandatory vaccination, but Merck's attempt to sway politicians and Gov. Perry's bypass of the people's legislature in TX, put the whole thing in a different light.

Maybe after a few years of experience and with the entrance of competing products, more people may be won over to the mandatory side of the issue.

Right now, the way the CDC (and other govt agencies around the world) is handling this is the right way, IMHO. In fact, I believe the US government should do more to subsidize the cost of the shots.