Family First NZ says that calls for the cervical cancer vaccine to be given to boys as well as girls is based on shonky research, marketing pressure, and wrong spending priorities.
“The claim that Gardasil prevents penile cancer is based on a study of 16 to 26-year olds, funded by the drug company Merck which sells the drug, and the study lasted only five years,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “But penile cancer does not normally present until a person reaches the age of 50, and is extremely rare at approximatey 1 in 100,000 men.”
“There has also been no research on whether the vaccine actually reduces the carriage of HPV in the community and this is acknowledged by NZ’s Immunisation Advisory Centre.”
“Any research by Merck should be treated with extreme caution as they have just funded a $4.85 billion payout to settle 26,500 lawsuits regarding Vioxx – a painkiller which caused heart attacks, strokes or deaths. They were accused of waging ‘a campaign of deception to promote its drug, moving slowly to warn of possible hazards while at the same time dressing up in-house studies as the work of independent academic researchers’.”
“The Labour government’s commitment to spend $160m over four years on the Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer, and now being promoted for boys, may be more as a result of aggressive marketing by the drug company but without adequate research to warrant the huge taxpayer investment.”
Two recent articles the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that the vaccines are being widely used without sufficient evidence as to their cost benefit, and their effectiveness in tackling the disease.
“Throwing money at a problem doesn’t necessarily make the problem go away,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The best strategy for preventing the HPV virus in teenagers is for them to postpone sexual involvement and to promote abstinence. We are accepting by default that kids are going to be sexually active at a time that is not suitable or safe for them.”
“Young people deserve good advice – not vaccines for at-risk behaviour,”