The WSJ's Selective Questions About Merck

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  • 04/16/2007
Isn't everyone getting tired of the "Drug company's overhype products with paid for studies" angle? Or better yet, when are people going to do their own thinking on issues instead of letting journalists with an agenda do it for them?

Carreyrou tries to frame the Merck HPV vaccine mandate issue as whether it is efficacious enough to mandate it's use or more to his point, to justify Merck's effort to support mandatory immunization. He brings in statistician's to question whether it will really be effective in a group not included studied in the clinical trials.

The fact is, no vaccine designed to reduce the spread of a virus is 100 percent effective in preventing disease particularly in those with a pre-existing infection. By Carreyrou's standard then vaccines for HIV, syphillis, TB, denge, herpes should not be mandatory or by other means be part of an aggressive effort to immunize 100 percent of patients.

As my colleague Marc Siegel has pointed out time and again, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes precancerous warts that lead to billions of dollars of screenings, surgeries, etc. For that alone Merck's vaccine makes an important contribution. Whether Merck should have pushed for mandatory immunization (which Peter and I support) is another question. Needless to say, anyone can play the guessing game about real world effectiveness but chances are given the mechanistic understanding of the disease as opposed to fantasy baseball analysis that the epidemiologists often take, I would bet on Merck and not a numbers cruncher John dug up.

In any event, the whole article has the sound and feel of an article from a website called which lays out the case against Merck in the same way Carreyrou does including an interview with the same Maine legislator who criticizes a woman's legislative groups for taking money from Merck.

You can compare the two articles and decide which is more efficacious:

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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