Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Stay on Gardasil - it ain't over until it's over

The headline looks encouraging: "Merck suspends lobbying for vaccine." But never underestimate the meddling instincts of politicians or the desire for a government-guaranteed buck.

"Merck & Co., bowing to pressure from parents and medical groups, is immediately suspending its lobbying campaign to persuade state legislatures to mandate that adolescent girls get the company's new vaccine against cervical cancer as a requirement for school attendance." Good news. The vaccine, Gardasil, may turn out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but forcing sixth-grade girls to undergo the costly three-shot regimen is Big Brother at its most intrusive.

"'We're concerned that our role in supporting school requirements is a distraction from that goal, and as such have suspended our lobbying efforts,' (Merck medical director Dr. Richard) Haupt said, adding the company will continue providing information about the vaccine if requested by government officials."

In that last phrase is the remaining danger. Just because Merck has suspended its lobbying efforts doesn't mean it suddenly believes it was wrong to try to force the vaccine on schoolgirls. It may simply mean the publicity has reached the point where the Powers That Be have decided they have enough traction and don't need to invest any more cash in their compliant political pawns.

Indeed, in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry's power grab – bypassing the legislature and enforcing the requirement by executive order – is being challenged, the PTB trotted out the classic tear-inducing scenario where a cancer victim pleads for forced vaccination because "if it can just save one child, that's enough." (Link here.) The underlying assumption is that government knows better than parents on matters involving their children, and if that's true in just one case, then the will of the government must be forced on all children.

Tuesday's announcement does not mean that the effort to guarantee a taxpayer-funded market for Gardasil is over. It just means they will try to be more subtle about it.

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Blogger Michael said...

The cat's already out of the bag and the money has been spread around. Merck can cease their current efforts because they've already done what they intended to do...get to the politicians and plant their monetary seeds.

9:38 AM  

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