Sunday, March 25, 2007

Guess who was right about the HPV vaccine?

That's right, dear readers: ME. See the following Op-Ed in the Times. While there are cases in which the HPV vaccine makes sense this article clears up a lot of misunderstandings that have been fully exploited by Merck, the vaccine's manufacturer, which stands to make a $hit-ton of money if New York and other state governments mandate the vaccine (which costs a whopping $360 for the series of 3 shots) for all school-age children.
The fact is, treatment for cervical cancer is so available and so good that the disease burden does not necessitate such a hugely expensive vaccine. This is not avian flu, people. I will concede that the author of this article is a staffer at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, but they're smart people in spite of their opposition to stuff like heavy-handed government public health measures.
The reason the HPV vaccine doesn't need mandating isn't "because making such determinations rightly rests with families" (individuals and individual families routinely make the wrong determinations about all kinds of health issues) but because the cost of this vaccine and the as-yet unknown risks associated with it mean that, particularly until the cost goes down, it's just not necessary.

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