Is Gardasil Helping Merck Pay for Vioxx Lawsuits?

Why do some folks think that the Gardasil vaccine is being pushed to help Merck pay for their Vioxx lawsuits?

The latest anti-vax conspiracy theory from Bobby Kennedy.
The latest anti-vax conspiracy theory from Bobby Kennedy.

The usual suspects…

Is Gardasil Helping Merck Pay for Vioxx Lawsuits?

Could it be true?

“Three years after withdrawing its pain medication Vioxx from the market, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits by people who claim they or their family members suffered injury or died after taking the drug, according to two lawyers with direct knowledge of the matter.”

Merck Agrees to Settle Vioxx Suits for $4.85 Billion

Merck settled most of those lawsuits in 2007.

“But for Merck, which has already spent more than $1.2 billion on Vioxx-related legal fees, the settlement will put to rest any fears that Vioxx lawsuits might bankrupt the company, or even have a significant financial impact. While eye-popping, the settlement payment represents less than one year’s profits for the company, the third-largest American drug maker.”

Merck Agrees to Settle Vioxx Suits for $4.85 Billion

All together, Merck has paid more than $8.5 billion to settle litigation and pay fines and legal costs.

“Merck’s recovery is proceeding as planned. The stock is up from $44 when we wrote about it to just shy of $55 on Oct. 22, a gain of nearly 25%. The latest push came from strong third-quarter earnings aided by robust sales of Gardasil, new diabetes pill Januvia, and asthma drug Singulair. The company’s cost-cutting program also helped.”

Update: Merck recovers from Vioxx

And they long ago recovered from the lawsuits, with their stock price now at about $87, reaching multi-year highs.

Is Gardasil driving their profits?

“Our performance in 2007 shows that the customer-focused, more efficient business model we began implementing more than two years ago is working,” said Richard T. Clark, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We have a strong portfolio of products, a robust pipeline of potential new therapies and a leadership team focused daily on improving operational performance. This positions us to build on our record of delivering essential breakthrough medicines and vaccines like JANUVIA, ISENTRESS and GARDASIL to the global marketplace.”

Merck Announces 2007 Financial Results Reflecting Revenue Growth from Key Products

It certainly didn’t hurt, but Merck’s biggest seller is now the “blockbuster” cancer drug Keytruda.

Back in 2007, it was Singulair, which is now generic.

Gardasil makes up a smaller percentage of Merck’s total sales.

Anyway, profits from Gardasil have been rising in recent years because of sales in China and Europe, not mandates in the United States.

  • Keytruda – $3.07 billion in the last quarter
  • Gardasil / Gardasil 9 – $1.32 billion
  • Januvia / Janumet – $1.31 billion
  • Proquad/M-M-R II/ Varivax – $623 million
  • Bridion – $280 million
  • Isentress / Isentress HD – $250 million
  • Nuvaring – $241 million
  • Pneumovax 23 – $237 million
  • Simponi – $203 million
  • Implanon / Nexplanon – $199 million

But did Merck really have a “HPV: Help Pay for Vioxx” plan?

Where is the document from Merck that says "this time we have no liability and we can't get caught?"
Where is the document from Merck that says “this time we have no liability and we can’t get caught?”

Did their recovery require Gardasil becoming mandatory around the world?

Kennedy’s Help Pay for Vioxx Bombshell is a Dud

With just a little research, it is easy to review Merck’s plan after Vioxx.

“I tell the (Merck) organization if you want Vioxx off the front page, if you want it out of the news, we have to put Gardasil on the front page and have to put Januvia on the front page,” Richard Clark, Merck’s CEO said at the Reuters Summit in New York on Wednesday.

It included closing five manufacturing plants and 3 research laboratories and laying off 11 percent of its work force. And introducing new drugs and vaccines, including Januvia, Isentress, Keytruda, and yes, Gardasil.

But since there are currently mandates for Gardasil in just two states, Rhode Island and Virginia, and the District of Columbia, it is pretty obvious that their recovery didn’t hinge on vaccine mandates.

Still, since Gardasil is approved and recommended for children when they are 11 to 12 years old, it shouldn’t be surprising that Merck did lobby state legislatures to make it mandatory, like other vaccines that are needed to attend school.

And as much as folks like Bobby Kennedy wish there was a new scandal, it is very easy to see that Merck is doing well because they have a vaccine that prevents cancer, a drug that treats cancer, and other important products.

“One activist who frequently criticizes pharmaceutical companies, Vera Hassner Sharav, and a co-author suggested that the H.P.V. vaccine stood for a campaign to “Help Pay for Vioxx” losses. “

Furor on Rush to Require Cervical Cancer Vaccine

What’s really surprising is that Bobby Kennedy‘s bombshell “Help Pay for Vioxx” idea isn’t even new.

“A fourth factor that soured many policymakers on mandates was consternation over the involvement of the vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck, in the policy process. Merck undertook a multifaceted marketing campaign to promote the passage of mandate legislation. Representatives of the company met with legislators and hired political consultants to promote the vaccine. Merck also provided unrestricted funds to Women in Government, a national organization of female legislators. Many of the bills to require HPV vaccination were introduced by Women in Government members.

Although Merck’s lobbying was a key catalyst in the initial push for mandates, many stakeholders came to view the company’s efforts as a liability. As media coverage called attention to the company’s aggressive tactics, suspicion grew that policy decisions were not being based on the product’s merits, and people who were otherwise supportive pulled back. The belief that mandate bills were an effort to make money for the company overshadowed whatever principled arguments might exist for them.”

Colgrove et al on HPV Vaccination Mandates — Lawmaking amid Political and Scientific Controversy

An article in the New York Times talked about it way back in 2007…

Merck is doing very well even though Gardasil is only mandated in two states and Washington D.C.
Merck is doing very well even though Gardasil is only mandated in two states and Washington D.C.

It sure does sound scarier to say that you discovered all of this during a lawsuit instead of a simple Google search though. But that’s how propaganda works.

#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show.
#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show. Although he says he has changed his mind and now recommends it, how many kids weren’t vaccinated and are at risk to develop cervical cancer because their parents listened to him and they weren’t vaccinated?

Fortunately, many parents aren’t buying it anymore.

“Coverage estimates for HPV vaccination are low despite evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety. This large pool of unvaccinated adolescents in the United States means that considerable public health benefits are not being realized; many vaccine-preventable cancers caused by HPV will occur… Mandating HPV vaccination for school entry is a move that will protect the public’s health by preventing HPV-related morbidity and mortality.”

Barraza et al on Human Papillomavirus and Mandatory Immunization Laws

They know that HPV vaccines are safe, with few risks, and more and more are vaccinating their kids, although even more kids would get vaccinated and protected if Gardasil was finally mandated like other vaccines.

More on Gardasil and Vioxx Lawsuits

Are More Polio Cases Now Being Caused by the Vaccine Than by Wild Polio Viruses?

Why would people think that more polio cases are now being caused by the vaccine than by wild polio viruses?

More polio cases are now being caused by the vaccine than by wild polio viruses.

Well, it’s true…

Are More Polio Cases Now Being Caused by the Vaccine Than by Wild Polio Viruses?

Wait, what?

“It is no exaggeration to describe it as a crisis. Even worse, looking more widely at the current state of polio eradication, the crisis has three peaks: the first is the level of wild polioviruses in Pakistan; the second is the way that the escalating restrictions in access in Afghanistan have created a huge immunity gap; and the third peak is the widespread occurrence of vaccine-derived polioviruses.”

Independent Monitoring Board 17th Report

Yes, as we are getting close to eradicating polio, we had been seeing fewer and fewer cases of wild polio in the world.

“In rare cases, the live virus in oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.”

Report raises concern about rare polio cases caused by oral vaccine

And we have been seeing more cases of vaccine-derived polio, which is rarely caused by the oral polio vaccine.

Fortunately, something that most folks miss is that the polio vaccine protects against both wild polio and vaccine-derived polio.

“As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralysed more than 350,000 children in more than 125 countries every year. In 2018 there were fewer than 30 reported cases in just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“Zero polio transmission and health for all”, WHO Director-General gives new year’s wish to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan

And of course, if we weren’t using these polio vaccines, while that would solve the problem of vaccine associated polio, we would simply be seeing lots more wild polio.

More polio cases are now being caused by the vaccine than by wild polio viruses.

Even though cases of wild polio are up this year, after years of decline, they are still tremendously below what they were in the pre-vaccine era.

Remember, we are comparing about 300 cases of wild and vaccine-derived polio that we see today with more than 300,000 of wild polio that we used to see!

“Global efforts to immunise children with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) have reduced wild poliovirus cases by 99.9% since 1988.”

Fact Sheet: Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus

And even those 300 cases of wild and vaccine-derived polio cases can be eliminated if more kids get vaccinated.

“Today, global leaders convened at the Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) Forum in Abu Dhabi to affirm their commitment to eradicate polio and pledge US$2.6 billion as part of the first phase of the funding needed to implement the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023.”

Global leaders pledge US $2.6 billion to eradicate polio at the Reaching the Last Mile forum in Abu Dhabi

And we will get those kids vaccinated.

“Fourthly, rumours and deliberate social media seeding of misinformation about the polio vaccine has had a big impact on refusal rates. Fifthly, organised boycotts of the Polio Programme to gain political concessions have reduced some communities’ acceptance of the polio vaccine.”

Independent Monitoring Board 17th Report

And we will eradicate polio.

More on Polio Eradication

Have Over 75,000 Adverse Reactions to the HPV Vaccine Been Reported?

Why do some people think that over 75,000 adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine have been reported?

The adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine they are talking about are reports to VAERS and are almost all non-serious, including injection site reactions.
I fixed this anti-vax sign to make it less misleading… The adverse reactions they are talking about are reports to VAERS and are almost all non-serious, including injection site reactions.

Oh, the anti-vax sign folks…

Have Over 75,000 Adverse Reactions to the HPV Vaccine Been Reported?

So is it true?

Actually, it probably is.

After all, the first HPV vaccine was approved in 2006 and over 110,000,000 doses have been distributed to children, teens, and young adults in the United States alone.

And the adverse reactions they are talking about are reports to VAERS, which means that they are not actually known to be causally linked to the vaccine.

“During June 2006–March 2014, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received a total of 25,176 adverse event reports after HPV vaccination in the United States. Among these, HPV4 was cited in 99% of reports (22,867 and 2,196 reports among females and males, respectively); 92.4% of the HPV4 reports were classified as nonserious. Since October 2009, when HPV4 was licensed for males, the most commonly reported symptoms among males were similar to those among females, including injection site reactions, dizziness, syncope, nausea, and headache. Overall, reporting of adverse events to VAERS is consistent with prelicensure clinical trial data and consistent with the 2009 published summary of the first 2.5 years of postlicensure reporting to VAERS.”

Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents, 2007–2013, and Postlicensure Vaccine Safety Monitoring, 2006–2014 — United States

Anyway, the overwhelming majority of the HPV vaccine reports to VAERS haven’t been serious.

And those that are classified as serious weren’t to the point of being severe or anything…

“Among the 7.9% of HPV4-related VAERS reports classified as serious, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, syncope, and generalized weakness were the most frequently reported symptoms.”

Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescent Girls, 2007–2012, and Postlicensure Vaccine Safety Monitoring, 2006–2013 — United States

Study after study have shown that HPV vaccines are safe, with few risks.

“After 2 years of near real-time surveillance of 9vHPV and several prespecified adverse events, no new safety concerns were identified.”

Donahue et al on Near Real-Time Surveillance to Assess the Safety of the 9-Valent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine.

Also remember that HPV vaccines prevent cancer!

The next time you see one of these anti-vax propaganda signs, think about why they are trying to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, risking their getting life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases and cancer.

More on Adverse Reactions to the HPV Vaccine

Can Vaccines Cause Herpes Infections?

It’s very easy to understand why some folks believe that vaccine injuries are so common.

Vaccines don't cause eczema and they certainly don't cause herpes.
Vaccines don’t cause eczema and they certainly don’t cause herpes.

It’s because they think that vaccines are poison and everything is a vaccine injury, even an infant’s herpes infection!

Can Vaccines Cause Herpes Infections?

Wait, could someone actually get herpes from a vaccine?

Yes, which vaccine causes this???
Yes, which vaccine causes this???

Do we even have a herpes vaccine?

Chickenpox, shingles, and herpes are all members of the herpesviridae family of viruses, but they are not all herpes.

As most people understand, we do have a herpes zoster vaccine, but that is for shingles – and it has nothing to do with the actual herpes virus. Remember, shingles got the name herpes zoster before it was known that it was actually caused by the chicken pox virus (varicella zoster).

And while there is a very large herpesviridae family of viruses, which includes the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores (HSV1) and genital ulcers (HSV2) and the chickenpox virus, it also includes viruses that cause mono (EBV) and roseola (HHV6 and 7).

Still, only HSV actually causes herpes.

So no, none of the viruses we get could actually cause herpes.

It is thought that nearly 48% of people have HSV1 though and that you can be contagious, shedding the herpes virus even if you don’t have an active cold sore.

Where is the evidence for vaccines being contaminated with herpes viruses?
Where is the evidence for vaccines being contaminated with herpes viruses?

So what’s more likely, an infant was exposed to someone with HSV1 and got infected or they received a vaccine that was contaminated with HSV1, something that has never been documented?

What are some other “possibilities?”

Could it be eczema vaccinatum?

While eczema vaccinatum is a thing, it is a thing that occurs when someone with eczema gets or is exposed to someone who has recently had the smallpox vaccine.

Eczema vaccinatum has to do with the smallpox vaccine...
Eczema vaccinatum has to do with the smallpox vaccine…

It is why the AAP once considered eczema a contraindication to getting vaccinated.

It is unlikely that the infant pictured above was exposed to someone who recently had the smallpox vaccine though and he doesn’t have eczema vaccinatum anyway…

Colloidal silver or CBD oil on eczema???
Colloidal silver or CBD oil on eczema???

And no matter how confident these folks are in their advice to treat and diagnose this baby, they are wrong.

It's truly mind numbing when these folks try to blame everything on vaccines.
It’s truly mind numbing when these folks try to blame everything on vaccines.

Everything isn’t a vaccine injury.

It is always the vaccines...
It is always the vaccines…

What happens if parents actually start to believe anti-vaccine folks who are claiming that HSV1 infections are caused by vaccines?

How do vaccines cause herpes virus?
How do vaccines cause herpes virus?

In addition to skipping or delaying vaccines, putting their kids at risk to get pertussis, measles, Hib, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, they might not take precautions to actually keep them from getting herpes!

Fortunately, most kids with herpes do well if they are outside the neonatal period - after they are about a month old.
Fortunately, most kids with herpes do well if they are outside the neonatal period – after they are about a month old. Hopefully this mom posts an update to the anti-vax group too.

And we will see more kids ending up in the hospital or dying with herpes infections.

More on Vaccines and Eczema