The Corner

Gardasil and the GOP

More than an hour into last night’s debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann attacked Gov. Rick Perry on the HPV vaccination controversy — or more accurately pseudo-controversy. It stems from an executive order issued by Perry in 2007 that required all Texas girls to receive Gardasil, a vaccine against the most common strains of human papilloma virus, before entering the sixth grade. However, Texas lawmakers blocked that mandate. Some critics argued that the vaccine was too new to have been confirmed safe, while others said that Perry’s order would preempt parental rights or give girls a false sense of security, possibly causing them to become sexually active at a young age.

Bachmann alluded to the Perry’s executive order mandating the exposure of young girls to a “dangerous” vaccine and tried to distinguish Gardasil from other required pediatric vaccines that prevent infectious diseases. Note to Bachmann: The vaccine, Merck’s Gardasil, prevents infection with the most common strains of human papilloma virus. Once established, these viruses can ultimately cause genital warts as well as cervical, anal, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. Thus, by preventing the infection, the vaccine prevents all those sequelae.

In the extensive clinical studies (on more than 20,000 girls and women) that were performed prior to the FDA’s licensing of the vaccine, the vaccine was 100 percent effective, a virtually unprecedented result. How safe is the vaccine? No serious side effects were detected; the most common side effect is soreness, redness and swelling in the arm at the site of the injection.

In summary, Gardasil has one of the most favorable risk-benefit ratios of any pharmaceutical.

Having spent 15 years at the FDA and having seen regulation — the good, the bad and the ugly — up close, I am as opposed to anyone (except perhaps Ron Paul) to non-essential government intrusion into our lives. But some interventions are good. Among those I would include vaccination against childhood diseases and compulsory use of seat belts and motorcycle helmets.

I am discouraged by politicians who not only don’t know much about science, technology, or medicine (which is perhaps understandable) but also don’t know what they don’t know (which is unacceptable). 

Here’s my advice to the presidential hopefuls: If you’re not sure of the facts, keep quiet.

— Henry I. Miller, M.D., is Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy & Public Policy Hoover Institution.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Grassley’s Kangaroo Court

So now it looks like next Thursday. On Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s manifestly meritorious nomination to the Supreme Court, what was supposed to be the vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Thursday now appears to be sliding into a hearing to be held next Thursday. Or, who knows, maybe a Thursday ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Censure Dianne Feinstein

Regardless of the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, the Senate should censure the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein. Her deception and maneuvering, condemned across the political spectrum, seriously interfered with the Senate’s performance of its constitutional duty to ... Read More
U.S.

Are We on the Verge of Civil War?

Americans keep dividing into two hostile camps. It seems the country is back to 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, rather than in 2018, during the greatest age of affluence, leisure, and freedom in the history of civilization. The ancient historian Thucydides called the civil discord that tore apart the ... Read More