© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
Please view this Gardasil Commercial. Does this preparation protect the young and naïve? Might this drug cause undetermined side effects? What might these be? Societal effects may be as daunting as physiological. You decide.
I share this information only to stimulate thought and discussion. I am baffled when a Governor acts against his own interests and supposed beliefs. Texas Governor Rick Perry is a conservative Christian. He avidly opposes abortion and strongly disagrees with policies that encourage the use of embryonic cells in stem-cell research. This Southern Governor considers the religious right his political base; he depends on their votes and continued support. Without these God-fearing persons residing in the Lone Star state, the Governor cannot function as he does.
Yet, Friday, Governor Perry seems to acted against the will of his people. He imposed a law that would mandate cervical cancer vaccines for very young girls. Sixth graders, ages eleven and twelve [11 and 12] would receive inoculations, protecting them against a sexually transmitted disease.
Perry chose to bypass the legislative branch and invoke an executive order. Thus, the Governor avoided voices that he knew would object to his action. His signing did not draw the attention a Bill going through Congress might have.
By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition from conservatives and parents' rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans rear their children.The Texas Governor states there is no difference between a vaccine used to protect sexually active individuals from diseases transmitted through intercourse and a polio vaccine.
Starting in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade -- generally ages 11 and 12 -- will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus.
In Illinois, the same practice is being proposed. Last week this procedure was recommended in a Senate Bill. If passed, eleven and twelve [11 and 12] year old schoolgirls would receive the required vaccination by the 2009 school year.
One might wonder why this is happening. As I often say, "I know nothing with certainty." I only offer what I do understand.
Mr. Perry’s action, praised by health advocates, caught many by surprise in a largely conservative state where sexual politics is often a battleground.Under this Texas program, girls and young women, between the ages of nine  and twenty-one  if eligible for public assistance would receive the injection for free.
The second-term Governor, recently re-elected explained, “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs.”
Human Papillomavirus [HPV,] affects 20 million people nationally. One in four 15-to-24-year-olds is afflicted with this disease. Human Papillomavirus is the nation’s most common sexually transmitted malady. According to Governor Perry's statement, Texas has the second-highest number of women with cervical cancer. In the Lone Star State alone, there were nearly 400 deaths last year. Clearly, the Governor has reason for concern. Yet, other issues boggle the average Joe, or Jane's mind.
Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group of female state legislators nationwide.I looked further for other sources of information. I discovered parents could opt out of the program. However, this is not the source of consolation for many.
Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's lobbyists in Texas is Perry's former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law is a state director for Women in Government.
Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.Upon reading this I felt a need to know more. I thought Merck had been through enough. In Texas alone a jury ruled, Merck negligent.
Texas allows parents to opt out of inoculations by filing an affidavit objecting to the vaccine on religious or philosophical reasons. Even with such provisions, however, conservative groups say such requirements interfere with parents' rights to make medical decisions for their children.
The federal government approved Gardasil in June, and a government advisory panel has recommended that all girls get the shots at 11 and 12, before they are likely to be sexually active.
The New Jersey-based drug company could generate billions in sales if Gardasil — at $360 for the three-shot regimen — were made mandatory across the country. Most insurance companies now cover the vaccine, which has been shown to have no serious side effects.
Merck spokeswoman Janet Skidmore would not say how much the company is spending on lobbyists or how much it has donated to Women in Government. Susan Crosby, the group's president, also declined to specify how much the drug company gave.
Jury: Merck negligentHowever, Merck did state their plans to appeal the decision. Still they may have problems in other states. In reading this, I conclude as Merck does, perhaps they are free to do as they have done before, stimulate profits at the expense of people.
Merck blamed for death in Vioxx suit; jury awards $253 million in damages. Drug giant to appeal.
August 22, 2005: 12:33 PM EDT
By Aaron Smith, CNN/Money staff writer
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Merck has been held liable by a Texas jury in the first lawsuit involving its former blockbuster drug Vioxx, in a case that could have a profound effect on thousands of other cases filed against the company.
Plaintiff Carol Ernst has won her lawsuit in Texas Superior Court in Angleton, which blames Vioxx for the 2001 death of her husband, Robert Ernst, a 59-year-old marathon runner and Wal-Mart worker who was taking the arthritis painkiller at the time of his death. Ernst died of a heart attack.
The verdict held Merck liable for the death. Jurors voted 10-2 in favor of Ernst.
The jury awarded more than $250 million in total damages -- $24 million to Carol Ernst for mental anguish and loss of companionship, and $229 million in punitive damages. Ernst's Houston-based lawyer, Mark Lanier, said the punitive-damages figure was based on "the money Merck made and saved by putting off their product label changes."
Lanier had been seeking $40.4 million in damages, and after the verdict, Lanier said that he expected the punitive-damages award to be reduced according to Texas law.
"Justice is a beautiful thing, isn't it?" Lanier told reporters following the verdict.
N.J. court revives Vioxx lawsuitI continued to consider the case of the schoolgirls. "Women in Government" the organization associated with Governor Rick Perry's Chief of Staff's mother-in-law, at first blush seems to be a well meaning group.
Ruling reinstates lawsuit that aims to force Merck to fund medical monitoring program for past Vioxx users.
January 17 2007: 5:39 PM EST
CHICAGO (Reuters) -- A New Jersey appeals court has revived a lawsuit that sought to force drugmaker Merck & Co. Inc. to fund a medical monitoring program for patients who took the painkiller Vioxx.
The state appellate court ruled on Tuesday that N.J. Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee's decision to dismiss the lawsuit was premature and failed to give the plaintiffs the opportunity to prove legally accepted claims.
The appeals court said in a 26-page opinion that it was not expressing an opinion on the ultimate viability of the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs in the case sought a court-administered medical screening program, funded by Merck (Charts) that would provide medical and diagnostic tests for each member of the class to detect potential heart problems arising from exposure to Vioxx.
"There is no medical science supporting the plaintiffs' position that they need to be monitored for cardiovascular conditions two years after Vioxx was voluntarily taken off the market," Merck attorney Ted Mayer said in an e-mailed statement.
Mayer said Merck is considering its options, including asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to review the case.
"Almost every court in the country has rejected class action treatment of medical monitoring claims because each plaintiff's claim needs to be evaluated individually," he said.
Deutsche Bank analyst Barbara Ryan said the ruling just means the case has been sent back to the lower court for a ruling.
If Merck is required to fund a medical monitoring program, Ryan said she doubted many former Vioxx users would take advantage of it because of the inconvenience and the low risk of suffering a heart attack if they had taken Vioxx only briefly.
Women In Government is a national 501(c)(3), non-profit, bi-partisan organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums, and educational resources to address and resolve complex public policy issues.Why might they work in tandem with Merck to vaccinate young girls? I searched page after page hoping to better understand the motivation of this foundation. Some say, follow the money. Thus, I did. The list of "sponsors" revealed much and confused me more. Some of their associates I hold in high regard. I am indifferent to others. Merck was once honored in my family. My grandfather, a pharmacist, recalls Merck was originally a distributor of fine chemicals. Initially, they engaged in important medical research. Now, I do not know. Please peruse and ponder. Please tell me what you think.
Women In Government leads the nation with a bold, courageous, and passionate vision that empowers and mobilizes all women legislators to effect sound policy.
Current SponsorsI will verbalize no assessment though I am interested in yours. Please share your thoughts on this story. Do elementary schoolgirls need a required vaccine, protecting them against sexually transmitted diseases? Might Governor Perry have proposed the possibility and asked for a dialogue. Will his constituents be pleased and is he concerned? If Rick Perry is demonstrating compassion, whom might it be for?
2 Red Hens
Altria Corporate Services, Inc.
American Diabetes Association
Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
Bobby Hogue & Associates
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Bose Treacy Associates
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association
Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Foundation
Digital Healthcare, Inc.
Discovery Health Channel
Edison Electric Institute
Electronic Data Systems
Eli Lilly and Company
Glaxo Smith Kline
Highland Campus Health Group
Ice Miller LLP
Indiana Health Care Association
Indiana Ophthalmology Association
Indiana State Chiropractic Association
Indiana State Medical Association
Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives
Johnson & Johnson
KWK Management Group, LLC
Lumina Foundation for Education
Managed Health Services
Merck & Company, Inc.
Michigan Association of Health Plans
Mullenix & Associates
National Hemophilia Foundation
National Life Group
Nellie Mae Education Foundation
Novo Nordisk, Inc.
Ohio Hospital Association
Pepco Holdings, Inc.
Procter & Gamble
Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC
Roche Diagnostics Corporation
Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
State Farm Insurance
Third Wave Technologies, Inc.
Ward Health Strategies
Wholesale Beer Distributors of Arkansas, Inc.
Is the Illinois State Senate seeking inoculations for the innocent because they wish to be benevolent?
Why drives Merck and the Women in Government. Are their visions disparate? Please share your thoughts me. What motivates any of us? This question is not rhetorical. I really wish to understand.
References for Reflection . . .