Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A federal report has concluded that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil has a 400 percent higher rate of adverse effects than another comparable vaccine, the Menactra anti-meningitis shot.
“It is unusual for there to be such a big discrepancy between two vaccines used in similar populations involving serious and relatively rare life threatening adverse events and autoimmune disorders,” the researchers from the federal Vaccine Events Reporting System wrote.
Gardasil, marketed by Merck, prevents againt the strains of HPV believed to be responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts cases. GlaxoSmithKline’s competing Cervarix vaccine protects against the same cervical cancer-causing strains.
The researchers considered Gardasil and Menactra equivalent for the purposes of comparison because they are given to similar age groups at similar frequencies. Their study concluded that Gardasil was associated with twice as many emergency room visits, four times as many deaths, four times as many heart attacks, seven times as many “disabled” reports and 15 times as many strokes. All reported cases of blood clots and heart attacks associated with Gardasil occurred when the vaccine was given alone, not in conjunction with other drugs.
“Fainting, which has been attributed by doctors and health officials as ‘fear’ of needles in teenage girls, is reported six times as often … after receipt of Gardasil than Menactra even though Menactra is also given to girls in the same age group,” the researchers noted.
The report recommends that the government more thoroughly investigate reports of dangerous side effects from the HPV vaccine, that research be conducted into mechanisms by which the vaccine might cause these effects, and that patients and parents be more adequately warned of the risks before vaccination. It also recommends that Congress investigate how the vaccine was fast-tracked for approval in the absence of safety data on girls younger than 17.