Merck stops lobbying for mandated HPV vaccine

Under pressure from varied interest groups, Merck has agreed to stop lobbying state legislatures in an effort to get them to mandate the HPV vaccine for young girls. Through a third party, Merck had been funding a campaign to have states require the its HPV vaccine Gardasil for 11- and 12-year-old girls before they could attend school. And the drugmaker's efforts had been bearing fruit. Though no bill has passed yet, legislatures in 20 states are considering measures that would institute this requirement.

Despite this legislative success, however, Merck has faced strong opposition to its efforts. Some parent groups had objected to the new requirement, arguing that a drug protecting against a sexually-transmitted disease could lead to teen promiscuity. Also, medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatricians have objected to the campaign, arguing that the campaign is premature at best. They suggest that governments need more time to find funding sources, and parents need more time to learn about the vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer by preventing HPV infections.

To learn more about the Gardasil controversy:
- check out the company's press release
- read this Associated Press article

ALSO: Though about 500 cases of Gardasil side effects have been reported to date--largely minor ones--the CDC doesn't believe any additional warning labels are necessary. Article

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