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Merck Pays Victims of Gardasil Injuries

In recent news from the Department of Health and Human Services, we learn that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has awarded almost $6 million to 49 victims in claims made for injuries received after vaccination with the controversial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. Following the adverse reaction reports can be shocking: 26 new deaths were reported in one calendar year, as well as incidents of seizures, paralysis, blindness and other neurological problems.

The motivation claimed for the vaccine is the prevention of cervical cancer, although the testing period was too short to evaluate claims of cancer prevention. (The new pap smear/cervical cancer screening guidelines should definitely be a big help - reducing unnecessary tests and clarifying those that can be helpful and when they should be applied.) The vaccines have been heftily promoted by private physicians and public health agencies alike, certainly concerned about sexually transmitted HPV (though over 90% of women clear the vaccine naturally within two years), though likely underinformed about the adverse side effects they should be sharing with their patients as part of informed consent. Evidently the deaths that occurred during the pre-release clinical trials were discarded as "unrelated". 

As this story continues, don't feel too badly for Merck having to pay out $6 million. To quote from the article, "The vaccine is expected to reach $1 billion in sales next year, and could reach more than $4 billion in sales in five years."