Sunday, 20 July 2008

'Trust me - I'm a pharmaceutical corporation'

I read today of fresh efforts by the government to push the HPV vaccination on young girls, and remembering stories of the vaccination causing death to recipients, I decide to do a little digging.

According to the Department of Health's fact sheet, this vaccination will save 400 lives per year.

According to Cancer Research, cervical cancer, which is linked to HPV, caused 1o61 deaths in 2005, with the highest number of deaths in the age group 80-84, and the second highest 85+, and 59 deaths occurring in women under the age of 35.

The vaccination is only to be used on young girls, because according to the DoH, it will not be used on women who are already at risk of infection - i.e who are sexually active. (It does not say why, but I have heard that, if someone has the virus already, the vaccination increases the risk of getting cancer. I will attempt to verify this with further enquiry).

So, imagining that this vaccination works to prevent 100% of cases of cancer in those that receive it - a claim that no one makes - how is this figure of 400 deaths prevented arrived at?

Regarding the graph of mortality in 2005, if every girl was given the jab at 10 years old, it would take 15 years for the jab to save two lives, and 25 years for the jab to save 59 lives. So, if every girl had been given this injection at the age of ten for the last 25 years, the number of deaths it would have prevented on average each year - assuming that it was 100% effective - would be 2.36.

Using this same methodology, it would take fifty years to save 432 lives, which would be on average 8.64 lives per year over the 50 year period.

I'm no statistician, and my calculations may be wrong (corrections welcomed) but that figure of 400 lives saved a year stinks like week-old fish.

On top of this, for a cost-benefit analysis, we have to consider the harm that the vaccination will do. There have already been a number of adverse reactions to the vaccination. According to a document obtained under Freedom of Information from the FDA by Judicial Watch:

"The adverse reactions include 10 deaths since September, 2007. (The total number of death reports is at least 18 and as many as 20.) The FDA also produced 140 “serious” reports (27 of which were categorized as “life threatening”), 10 spontaneous abortions and six cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome – all since January 2008"

Without knowing the total number of vaccinations administered, and thereby the statistical probability of an adverse reaction (that is to say an immediate adverse reaction) a proper analysis cannot be made. But surely, that is something that should be done now, rather than after many more young girls are exposed to this risk. (N.B. Check the DoH fact sheet - no indication is given of any serious adverse reaction).

Aside from the above points, is the question of whether this vaccination is effective against HPV, and the link, by no means direct, between HPV and cervical cancer.

Pharmaceutical companies are rubbing their hands with glee, as usual, at the prospect of the billions they stand to make from HPV vaccinations - money that could very well be spent elsewhere to better effect, if reducing cervical cancer is the goal.

History shows us that big pharma will downplay the risks and over-promise the benefits. History also shows us that many doctors will administer any drug, no matter how potentially harmful, as long as there's a target to meet, or a kick-back to be earned.

The pharmaceutical companies do not have our best interests at heart. Doctors make mistakes. It is time to stop naively trusting these so-called experts and start looking out for ourselves.

(N.B. There is more than one HPV vaccination on the market. I make no attempt to distinguish between them. I only hope to encourage people to stop, think and research the facts before consenting to being vaccinated or allowing their children to be vaccinated).

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