Merck Pulls Plug on Vaccine Politicizing

22 02 2007

Filed under: Merck, HPV Vaccine, Politics, Socialism

Recall my post about Merck & Co.’s heavy lobbying efforts that paid off when Texas Govenor, Rick Perry required all 11 – 12 year old girls to receive the vaccination or not be allowed to attend public school? After weeks of speculation and pressure from groups like FRC, Merck & Co. has announced that it will no longer lobby states to make its HPV vaccine Gardasil mandatory for school attendance.

Drugmaker Merck & Co. said on Tuesday it would stop lobbying state legislatures to make it mandatory for schoolgirls to be inoculated with its new cervical cancer vaccine.

The company said it made the decision after re-evaluating its lobbying program, which has generated fierce debate with some religious organizations saying it could encourage promiscuity and parents groups questioning the need for such a widespread vaccination program.

Family Resarch Council led the charge against Merck.

FRC put the spotlight on the company’s tactics–especially since Merck stood to make a substantial profit from its legislative campaign. This is no small victory for FRC, which took the lead to educate lawmakers and voters in states where mandatory immunization is still up for debate.

In the last month, our staff has ramped up its efforts on Capitol Hill, meeting with Members of Congress to discuss a national “opt-in” policy that would reinstate parental control, as opposed to the current “opt-out” provision for the vaccine in states like Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order to mandate the vaccine.

Two proposals are currently before the Texas House Committee on Public Health to help undo the damage done to parental rights. Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R) is pushing House Bill 1098, which would forbid state health officials to bar an unvaccinated child from public schools. A second proposal, House Bill 1379, introduced by Rep. Joe Deshotel (D), would require the state to create a “large-scale public information campaign” to explain the pros and cons of the vaccine before girls could be compelled to undergo the shots.

A number of medical and public health experts have said that until we have more data on the vaccine’s long-term safety and effectiveness, a mandate is premature at best.

I am constantly amazed at the tactics people will employ for money. In this case, to say Merck was “premature at best” is an understatement. Out of line is better. Immoral is best. Encouraging teen sex is simply inexusable. But I am truly disappointed in Gov. Perry for going with the “opt-out” policy instead of the “opt-in.” But I’m glad to see Merck respond quickly to the justified debate that engaged them and I appreciate their efforts to cease seeking state funding from mandatory vaccines to pull them out of their troubles.

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