Victory for parents:
Bill to mandate HPV vaccine to all 6th-grade girls stopped in committee -- despite heavy lobbying, radio ads by Merck drug company.
But scathing testimony & pressure by MassResistance
(FEBRUARY 11, 2008) (See previous reports below) A spokesman for the Massachusetts Legislature's Committee on Health Care Financing told MassResistance that the controversial bill S102 - "An act requiring immunization of children against human pampilloma virus" has been sent to "study" -- a legislative maneuver that that effectively kills it for the session.
S102 would have required an HPV vaccine to be given to all 6th-grade girls in the Commonwealth. Besides ethical and moral issues forcing a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease on young girls, the vaccine was widely criticized for being untested in the long term, dangerous, and ineffective.
S102 was being pushed by the massive Merck drug company as part of a multi-state effort to sell it's vaccine, Gardasil, by filing similar bills in in at least 18 state legislatures. In Massachusetts, Merck put a huge lobbying effort into S102. They put on lavish presentations for legislators and hired expensive lobbyists, which included a big State House "information" forum for legislators that included a parade of medical professionals brought in by Merck. Over the summer, slick radio commercials began to appear on Boston radio stations, funded by Merck, discussing the HPV issue and leading people to websites supportive of Merck's efforts.
Concern had been brewing around the country about Gardasil, but the Merck effort in Massachusetts seemed unstoppable. At the S102 public hearing on July 13, MassResistance was the only group testifying against it (with two people), but we presented powerful testimony plus additional material for each committee member. In addition, we made sure they knew that parents were going to fight this to the bitter end.
It looks like our work paid off! (Unfortunately, other states may not be so lucky.)
From our July 13, 2007 report of public hearing:
MassResistance and National Organization for Women take opposite sides in public hearing on bill to mandate controversial HPV vaccine to all 6th-grade girls.
MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE (JULY 11, 2007) At Wednesday's hearing before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, a roomful of people showed up. Bill S102 - which would mandate the controversial Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for all 6th-grade girls -- was first on the list of bills to be heard that day.
But when the committee asked for testimony on bill S102, only three people actually testified. Brian Camenker of MassResistance and pro-family activist Chris Funnell spoke strongly against the bill. And a young woman from the National Organization for Women (NOW) urged the committee to pass it.
MassResistance came out swinging (figuratively speaking). Among other things, we made sure they knew that this is basically a nationwide campaign by the huge Merck drug firm, and does NOT have grassroots support. And that physicians and parents across the country are concerned and outraged that (1) the vaccine only covers FOUR of the dozens of strains of HPV (2) this vaccine has NOT been properly tested, (3) we DON'T know its long-term effects on a female's reproductive system, and (4) we DON'T know its long-term effects on the immune system. And what are the emotional effects of giving 11-year-old girls a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease? This is extremely reckless.
Unfortunately, as you can see by our photos, most of the 20-member committee didn't bother to even show up. Even the chairman, Sen. Moore, arrived late.
Luckily, MassResistance also brought CDs for each committee member of Dr. Diggs' comprehensive discussion of the dangers of this vaccine, and also written testimony by Dr. Diggs and others.
Testimony submitted to Committee by MassResistance:
What was really going on? Why didn't anyone from Merck testify? This is quite sophisticated. Merck is doing everything behind the scenes.
Big-time lobbying. On May 30, Merck organized the "Mass. Caucus of Women Legislators" to sponsor a forum at the State House to push for S316. It was in a fourth-floor "private members" room, and over 80 people were there. There was a small army of "health care professionals" who were giving a souped-up dog-and-pony-show to dozens of invited legislators. It was first-class lobbying effort, that obviously cost a lot of money. (However, Amy from MassResistance was also there, and she's preparing a full report scheduled for early next week!)
Obviously, Merck doesn't want a "public" face on this, so they didn't testify at the public hearing. Instead, they recruited the Boston NOW chapter (which strongly supports abortion, pre-marital sex, etc.) to be their "front" group, so it would look as if it had wider support.
Why is this bill in the Health Care Finance Committee rather than the Public Health Committee? They're being devious. Sen. Moore explained at the forum that he wants to focus the debate from the "controversial" aspects of the bill to the financing of the vaccines, in order to shift the attention of the public and others.
Here's our earlier report from July 9 :
Bill in Legislature would require ALL 6th-grade girls in Mass. to get controversial HPV vaccine -- regardless of parents' objections!
Being pushed nationwide by huge Merck drug firm. Not adequately tested, say many physicians.
The latest sex-industry nightmare on kids is about to descend. This time it's being pushed by a heavyweight drug company and its allies in the Legislature. The public hearing for this bill is on Wednesday (see info below).
This bill is being pushed in Massachusetts and other states across the country by the drug giant Merck, the only company making a vaccine for HPV. Merck appears to be spending enormous amounts of money in lobbying efforts across the country, and sales of the drug could reach $4 billion according to some estimates.
More critical information:
Link to Committee on Health Care Financing