SThough we touched on the aggressive marketing tactics of pharmaceutical companies yesterday, there are several articles today discussing a New England Journal of Medicine spread about the cost and efficacy of HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix. To recap: both Gardasil and Cervarix are purported to prevent infection from the two strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer. Gardasil also prevents two strains that cause genital warts. Because of the high cost of the vaccine, Dr. Charlotte J. Haug writes in the NEJM, "Despite great expectations and promising results of clinical trials, we still lack sufficient evidence of an effective vaccine against cervical cancer… With so many essential questions still unanswered, there is good reason to be cautious."Yesterday, an article in the New York Times pointed out that there is a finite amount of funds available in countries that provide universal healthcare, and that shelling out vast sums of cash for a drug whose efficacy is still in question is potentially bad policy. "Some of our provinces are running out of money to provide primary care," Dr. Abby Lippman, a professor at McGill University told the Times. "I'm not against vaccines, but in Canada and the U.S., women are not dying in the streets of cervical cancer." However, the Times also notes that, "giving the vaccine to 12-year-olds would cost $43,600 for every 'quality adjusted year of life' it saved by preventing a cancer death; that price would often be considered acceptable by health officials in wealthy countries, experts say." In the end, it appears that researchers need more time to analyze the cost and effects of HPV vaccines before making any sort of definitive statement about them. If you've already received the shots, there's no real evidence that they're destructive, so don't freak out, Chicken Littles. If you haven't had the shot, keep following the research as it emerges, and always ask your doctor as many questions as you need or want to. Researchers Question Wide Use of HPV Vaccines [NYT] Drug Makers' Push Leads To Cancer Vaccines' Rise [NYT] Adult Cancer Shot May Not Be Worth High Price [AP via MSNBC] Earlier: Sore Subjects
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