Merck Bankrolling Gardasil Mandates in States

Note to our readers: It is understandable why Merck wants the vaccine mandated. On June 5th, Fortune Magazine writer John Simons reported Merck would make $2-$4 billion dollars annually if the vaccine is mandated by the States.  The shots, given three times over a 6 month period, will cost $360.00.

Drug firm pushes vaccine mandate: Merck lobbies on HPV vaccine

Associated Press
January 30, 2007

Merck & Co. is helping to bankroll efforts to pass state laws requiring girls as young as 11 or 12 to receive the drugmaker’s new vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical- cancer virus.

With at least 18 states debating whether to require Merck’s Gardasil vaccine for schoolgirls, Merck has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country. A top official from Merck’s vaccine division sits on Women in Government’s business council, and many of the bills around the country have been introduced by members of Women in Government.

 

Susan Crosby, president of Women in Government, which advocates school requirements for the vaccine, said Merck is an information resource and provides “unrestricted” grants so that her group determines the content of educational efforts. The group doesn’t disclose details about its corporate funding.

This arrangement enables Merck to promote its products to lawmakers through a seemingly unbiased third party.

“This is a time-honored practice for companies to underwrite these things so that they’re basically buying platforms,” said Bruce F. Freed, co-director of the Center for Political Accountability, which advocates transparency for corporate political activity. “Merck and Big Pharma are doing this the way Big Tobacco has done it for years.”

 

Cathie Adams, president of the conservative watchdog group Texas Eagle Forum, said the relationship between Merck and Women in Government is too cozy. “What it does is benefit the pharmaceutical companies, and I don’t want pharmaceutical companies taking precedence over the authorities of parents,” she said.

Adams said Merck’s method of lobbying quietly through groups like Women in Government in addition to meeting directly with legislators are common in state government but still should raise eyebrows. “It’s corrupt as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Groups such as the Maryland Family Protection Lobby also took issue with Merck’s lobbying.

“If Merck wants to come up with a drug and advertise it, and people want to buy it, that’s fine. I’m for capitalism,” said Doug Stiegler, executive director of the group. “What I don’t want is for Merck to come to the state and say we want to make millions of dollars from this, and we want you to mandate this for every schoolgirl who comes down the pike.”

Stiegler joins groups such as Focus on the Family, a politically active Christian organization, in opposing the mandate on the grounds that parents, not the government, should make such decisions.