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Millions Wasted on HPV Vaccine Despite Flaws

14 January 2013

Millions Wasted on HPV Vaccine Despite Flaws

Family First NZ says that despite a low uptake, failure to complete the full vaccine programme, recent research showing ineffectiveness of the vaccine, and adverse reactions, the government is planning to spend millions of dollars more on a vaccine that is unproven.

Information gained under the Official Information Act by Family First NZ shows that the government has already spent $114m and plans to spend another $43m over the next five years on vaccinating teenage girls. Combined with a low uptake of the vaccine, almost 1 in 6 teenage girls are not accessing the three jabs required. The Ministry admits that the catch-up programme has been canned.

Figures in 2009 showed 26 per cent of 12 to 16-year-olds and 35 per cent of 17 and 18-year-olds had received the first of three Gardasil doses in the first two years of the programme. Rates of uptake in 2011 varied between centres and between 20%-40%.

Official documents from last year also show that there have been 376 reports of suspected adverse reactions in association with Gardasil received by the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) of which 27 were considered serious, 11 required hospitalisation, two were life-threatening, 10 resulted in persisting disability, and two died.

Latest research shows effectiveness ‘overstated’ and ‘unproven’
A systematic review of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine by a Canadian team published recently shows that its effectiveness is not only overstated through the use of selective reporting or “cherry picking” data, but also completely unproven. The study by the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia says[i]:
“The widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions… the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70% reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer (let alone cervical cancer death), ….Likewise, the notion that HPV vaccines have an impressive safety profile is only supported by highly flawed design of safety trials and is contrary to accumulating evidence from vaccine safety surveillance databases and case reports which continue to link HPV vaccination to serious adverse outcomes (including death and permanent disabilities).

They conclude that “further reduction of cervical cancers might be best achieved by optimizing cervical screening (which carries no such risks) and targeting other factors of the disease rather than by the reliance on vaccines with questionable efficacy and safety profiles.”

“At the moment, students are being proselytised with unbalanced information through their schools or government organisations, and parents are being bullied into an uninformed response,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Significantly, figures released in Australia last year show that the number of Australian women killed by cervical cancer has halved since the introduction, not of Gardasil, but of the national screening program a decade ago.”

A recent report in the New York Times pointed out the vaccines have been studied for a relatively short period — both were licensed in 2006 and have been studied in clinical trails for at most six and a half years. Researchers have not yet demonstrated how long the immunity will last, or whether eliminating some strains of cancer-causing virus will decrease the body’s natural immunity to other strains.

A Harvard study also concluded that it might make more economic sense to rely on Pap smear screening alone which has effectively reduced cervical cancer death rates to very low levels.

“By continuing to spend $millions on this vaccine, there is less money available for other health issues including drugs like herceptin and heart disease medication which have proven their effectiveness, along with some elective surgery which is being cut,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“It seems that the government has been a victim of aggressive marketing worldwide by the vaccine makers with many questions regarding its effectiveness still unanswered – including its duration of protection, potential side-effects, and its cost effectiveness. Regular pap smears are still necessary and have been proved to be most effective in the fight against cervical cancer.”

[i] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23016780

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