Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pharmaceutical Giant vs. Religious Right

Whew! Talk about the Clash of the Titans. Mothra vs. Godzilla! It’s a showdown between a huge pharmaceutical conglomerate and the Religious Right. Get your front row seats!

Merck has been lobbying state legislatures to require adolescent girls to use Merck’s vaccine — Gardasil — to protect themselves against cervical cancer. Yes it’s appalling that a large corporation has such a tight scrotal grip on America’s government, but that seems to be a fact of life. At least in this particular case it’s a win-win: more profits for the already-bloated Merck AND a life-saving public health program.

And in this corner: the American Taliban. The Ku Klux Christians. Cervical cancer is often caused by the virus HPV, which is transmitted by sexual contact. And Gardasil protects girls against HPV. Ah yes, you're getting the picture now. We all know that pre-marital sex is EVIL. And this new vaccine will cause millions of 12-year-old girls to run out of the classroom, lie down in the grass and start having raw kinky sex with everything that moves.

This will make God very angry. This infernal vaccine was NOT part of His Plan. Bring on the Fire and Brimstone! If a few of these teenage sluts get cervical cancer — well, that'll learn ‘em.

Merck has now discontinued their lobbying campaign.

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Blogger J. Marquis said...

Strumpets! Harlots! May their cervixes burn for eternity!

February 22, 2007 at 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

J. Marquis: Ah yes, Hell hath no fury like a scorned God. He will strike back with fury.

February 22, 2007 at 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

What the hell was Merck thinking, going up against Pat Robertson's Taliban?

February 23, 2007 at 1:08 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Kurt: Good point. As powerful as the big pharmaceutical companies are, they're no match for the Salem Witch Hunters.

February 23, 2007 at 1:16 AM  
Anonymous jason cuevas said...

I actually think that the legislature has no business demanding all girls take this vaccine, and I'm actually pretty appalled so much of the left seems to be behind it. It's one thing to require vaccines for diseases that spread through the air, but this is an STD. If you decide not to have sex, you can't get it. Now I get that a lot of them wont, but that's not the point. The government has no right to require people to take a vaccine for a disease they can prevent themselves. While I would want my daughter to get it if I have one, it's not the governments place to regulate something like that.

February 23, 2007 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger BaxterWatch said...

My biggest concern with making this a "requirement" is that how many drugs out there are "approved" including vaccines, that haven't been tested on a large scale that are suddenly recalled or there are some side effects that were not known until later?

Making a drug /vaccine that just came on the market required is ASKING for lawsuits after several people come down with disease X or symptom Y.

Besides, its not the harlots you have to worry about. Its those horn ball boys who sleep with several women and then mary a virgin like their preacher told them to. Then they give their now viturous wife HPV. What about them?

Americans are so uptight about Sex. I guess we WERE a country founded by puritans, though.

February 23, 2007 at 6:20 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

Geez! What can I say, Tom? You done it all with this one! And what a lively bunch of comments.

j. marquis - ouch!

jason - One out of every three women are molested or raped while they are growing up in their homes. Little girls and budding teens do not have a "choice" to refuse a pedophilic stepfather, uncle, grandfather, or mom's boyfriend. I speak from experience.

February 23, 2007 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jason: I’m not taking Merck’s side in this issue. I mostly did this post because it’s so amusing to watch two 800-pound gorillas slugging it out. As far as whether this vaccine should be required, I’m of two minds. Yes, it’s too much government intrusion, and there's the danger of unknown side effects (Vioxx, Thalidomide).

But the one advantage of requiring this vaccine (which doesn’t mean I’m in favor of it): We've all known ministers’ children who were the wildest and most defiant kids ever. Millions of “Christian” families will forbid their daughters to get this vaccine, and quite a few of those girls will be having sex, whether their parents like it or not. If it’s a disease that isn’t transmitted sexually, there aren’t all these Puritan reactions. Not many parents will object to their kids getting vaccinations for the flu. But I think a lot of “Christian” parents will be sentencing their daughters to the threat of cervical cancer just so they can feel righteous.

So like I say, I’m not sure what to think about this. Mandatory vaccinations would save lives, but I don’t like the idea of a huge corporation dictating to the government.

Baxterwatch: That’s true, we don’t want another Vioxx or Thalidomide fiasco. I can see the drawbacks to both scenarios: requiring the vaccine or making it voluntary.

And I’m sure you could tell I was being satirical when I talked about sluts and harlots. America’s Puritan heritage is still rearing its head after hundreds of years.

February 23, 2007 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kitchen Window Woman: Good point. There's a very sinister side to those "family values." BTW, J. Marquis' comment was tongue-in-cheek.

February 23, 2007 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger prying1 said...

This one is sort of old and the religious right has long been misrepresented on this issue. I posted on this June 14 of '06 -

Focus on the Family statement -
PDF reader needed -

Family Research COuncil stetment -

My main concern is contraindications AND FULL DISCLOSURE to the young ladies receiving Gardasil. The last thing we need is to find out 5-10 years down the line that the stuff causes problems like liver failure or something and Merck held back the info.

As a Christian I do not think that it should be up to the government to demand women take the shots. As young ladies reach the age of 16-18 (depending on state laws) they can take it if they want but prior to that time it should be the parents decision.

February 23, 2007 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Prying1: You're right about possible side effects. The last thing we need is a generation of women with horrible side effects. As I was saying in an earlier comment, I’m not on Merck’s side here; I mostly posted about this just because it’s so amusing to see a big brawl between two powerful groups who are both used to getting their own way. In the post itself I was leaning toward making the vaccinations mandatory (there are drawbacks to both positions), but after some of the other comments here, and other posts I’ve seen on the same subject, I’m sort of leaning the other way. (I’m not set in stone.)

“As a Christian I do not think that it should be up to the government to demand women take the shots.” Now I don’t know about your beliefs personally, but an awful lot of your fellow Christians seem to think it’s just hunky dory for the government to barge into people’s bedrooms and micromanage every detail of their personal lives. If people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson were content to just practice their beliefs without trying to legislate them, they wouldn’t be vilified in the media and on the Internet.

February 23, 2007 at 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Linda said...

I first heard about this debate on PBS tonight, after the legislation has been introduced in my state and several others. I'm just sick about the possibility of a legal requirement for girls to get this shot.

My main problem with it is Big Pharma--the potential for harmful side effects after a small trial run and a rush through the FDA. And, man, at $400 a pop, Merck really has a good reason to rush this through before any of the problems are uncovered. Here's some interesting info I found at another blog ... Gardasil; Truth and Consequences. Merck Stops Lobby.

I take a very naturopathic approach to my health, boycotting all pharmaceuticals. I believe that people in our society generally are too dependent on putting these chemicals in their bodies when healthier options are available. It's doing untold harm in the long run, bankrupting us and making us sicker. (Listen to the long list of nasty side effects whenever you hear a drug ad.)

It's a dilemma for me, though. I'm REALLY sick that my stance makes me look like I'm in bed (so to speak) with those depraved fundamentalists who seem to think that STDs are a fitting punishment for sexual activity. That's the REALLY evil argument in all this.

February 23, 2007 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Linda: I agree with you about Naturopathic remedies being (generally) better than pharmaceutical drugs. And government-mandated vaccinations should be a last resort. I was drawn to this subject just because it was yet another chance for the Religious Right to insert themselves into everyone’s lives, and because it was so poetic to watch the pharmaceutical lobby and the “Christian” lobby duking it out.

This HPV is a serious health issue. Ideally these vaccinations should be voluntary, but like I said earlier, the “wild” children of ministers (and this is so common it’s almost a stereotype) would be the victims if this vaccine isn’t made mandatory. The righteous parents would say “No! Our daughter won't be taking part in such deviant behavior!” And some of them will, and they’ll be “punished” with cervical cancer. And the other scenario: millions of girls will get this vaccine, and ten years later we’ll discover some horrible side effects to Gardasil. Both scenarios suck. What to do?

February 23, 2007 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger spaceneedl said...

count me as a non-religious liberal against gardicil.

February 23, 2007 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Spaceneedl: Duly noted. Interesting link.

February 24, 2007 at 1:11 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

I tried posting this last night, but for some reason it didn't take:

What to do? I usually start by following the money. Check out what they have to say at the human rights org, Alliance for Human Research Protection ...

Merck Payola Pays Off: Texas Governor Orders STD Vaccine for ALL girls

and ...

Texas governor’s staff discussed vaccine on day Merck donated to campaign

I'm afraid that whenever a Republican governor in the bible belt turns his back on his fundamentalist constituents, you can follow the money trail for the answers.

As I've checked out the actual stats on how rarely this immunization can prevent the disease, I don't believe all the risk and cost is worth it. (Not all cervical cancer is caused by HPV, it's relatively rare and slow-acting.) It's nowhere near like major epidemics we've mandated immunizations for.

Hmmmm ... lookit already ... No new HPV drug warnings ordered.

February 24, 2007 at 6:06 AM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

No, Jesusistan has not been "misrepresented" on this. Many of their leading lights have been very explicit in condemning the vaccine for exactly the reasons outlined here.

If you want to have some real fun, ask a Jesusistani a question that causes their heads to explode.

Since this virus is transmitted by men, the purest virgin girl may wind up marrying a man who will transmit the virus to her-so obviously, all sex with men is out since the vaccine encourages sluttiness. So the only logical conclusion we come to is that to protect our daughters, we must encourage them to become lesbians. Right?

February 24, 2007 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Linda: Interesting links. Yup, the pharmaceutical lobby has way too much clout, no question about that. For that matter, a lot of vitamin and herbal supplements will start disappearing off the shelves at some point; it’s part of the CAFTA treaty that Congress passed in 2005. And Big Pharm is responsible for that; they don’t want competition.

You're right about a Republican governor in the Bible Belt. When he turns his back on his constituents — follow the money.

Jolly Roger: Uh oh, your idea might start taking hold in Jesusistan. Become a lesbian, a nun or an “old maid” (if that term still even exists) — three surefire methods for avoiding HPV.

February 24, 2007 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

> Tom: "This HPV is a serious health issue. Ideally these vaccinations should be voluntary, but like I said earlier, the “wild” children of ministers (and this is so common it’s almost a stereotype) would be the victims if this vaccine isn’t made mandatory."

All of these state laws have opt-outs and these ministers will likely opt their daughters out of even a mandatory system. Any way you look at it, these girls are screwed. Not fair but unfortunately, they can't pick their parents.

Glad to see that though it's been introduced in my state (by a Democratic member of the Merck-funded national Women in Government caucus, BTW), it's been tabled for further scrutiny--and other original sponsors have withdrawn their support.

Here's the map, at the PBS site ...
State by State: HPV Vaccination Legislation. (Story and video there too.)

I found that in a few other states as well, the initial rush is grinding to a halt. (WhatEVER were we able to find out before google?) This pause to think can only be a good thing for the American public.

February 24, 2007 at 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Linda: That's a good point, that ministers and other "righteous" types would opt-out their daughters from the vaccinations.

Thanks for the link.

February 25, 2007 at 1:05 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I am another lefty who doesn't think such a vaccine should be mandatory. I also believe it needs a lot more testing before it can be determined that such a thing is entirely safe.

What gets me going is the way the "religious" people have been squeaking about it like it's some kind of thing that will "promote" sexual activity... please!

February 25, 2007 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: Yeah, I'm pretty much against making these vaccinations mandatory. When I first did this post, I was leaning toward favoring making it mandatory, but that was mostly just a reaction to all the pontificating by the Fundamentalists. I think I did another post about this, in late 2005, about how infuriating it was that a life-saving vaccine can be viewed by "Christians" as something that will create an army of whores. Those people are just too demented to be believed.

February 26, 2007 at 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes it very hard to pick sides.

Much as I can't stand the religious right, I've worked for the pharmaceutical companies and we are talking real thugs!


March 2, 2007 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Yeah, both sides are pretty undesirable. Sort of like seeing a fight between 2 guys you hate, and you just hope they pound each other to a bloody pulp.

March 2, 2007 at 5:32 PM  

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