Skepticism about science and medicine

In search of disinterested science

Deadly vaccines

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2013/04/17

Much of what’s wrong with current medical practices and purported medical science is encapsulated in the Gardasil (and Cervarix) story.

An entrepreneurial scientist finds that several strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are “associated” with cervical cancer and with genital warts.

Obviously, therefore, there’s money to be made by producing a vaccine against HPV. Forget that correlation never proves causation. Forget that the incidence of cervical cancer had been declining for a couple of decades. Forget that the number of cases was never large, a few thousand a year in the USA.

Having produced a vaccine, get it approved via the accelerated approval process, which was introduced two decades ago during the hysteria over AIDS, and was specifically to be used only for possible treatments for imminently life-threatening conditions for which no treatment existed.
The costs of this approval process are borne by the drug company, But Congress specifically barred the Food and Drug Administration from using any of those funds for the badly needed monitoring of these hastily approved drugs after they went on the market. In practice, therefore, there is no effective monitoring.

So Gardasil — like so many other inadequately tested drugs or vaccines (Selling sickness and huckstering medications) — was approved, and was marketed with vigor and dishonesty as recommended for all teenage females, and soon afterwards for all teenage males whose only “risk” is for genital warts, inconvenient but hardly a serious threat to health.

As I wrote several years ago, (Gardasil and Cervarix: Vaccination insanity)

It seems that the serious “side” effects of the vaccine
 are about as common
 as what the vaccination is supposed to protect against.

See also “Gardasil and the Sad State of Present-Day Medical Practices”.
And now read “U.S. Court Awards $6 Million in Damages to Gardasil Victims”.

Lest you imagine that such pay-outs deter drug companies from continuing to market and promote unsafe substances, and to break the law by urging off-label uses of drugs, remember that several large drug companies have paid billions of dollars in fines without changing their behavior on the very issues for which the fines were levied (“Glaxo’s asthma problem”, Wall Street Journal, 6 July 2012,  pp. B1,2; “Here we go again: Novartis fined for off -label marketing”).

The occasional expense of a billion dollars or so is peanuts compared to the profits made from the illegal (as well as unethical, dishonest, and life-threatening) behavior.

But why vaccines now?

Because the market for “blockbuster” drugs is just about saturated. Just about everyone who could conceivably be persuaded to do it is already taking statins and blood-pressure-lowering drugs and anti-diabetes (blood-sugar-lowering) drugs. Anyone who feels down now and then is imbibing anti-depressants. Innumerable men are taking aphrodisiac penis-hardeners (which occasionally cause blindness), and women are beginning to be talked into taking them to supposedly make them “hotter”. Anyone who is sometimes short of breath is using inhalers that do not much good but plenty of harm.
So the next big push has to be vaccines, to prevent things that they cannot actually be shown to prevent. Remember that Gardasil and Cervarix have only been shown to have a bit of effect against HPV, which infects huge numbers of people who typically rid themselves of it within a year or two, and of which only a few strains seem to be even “associated” with cervical cancer. That they cause it remains to be demonstrated, a possibility that’s unlikely  to the nth degree in the face of a lack of any known viral cause of any human cancer. Virologists labored for a couple of decades under funding from the “war on cancer” without finding a single human-cancer-causing virus.

Association doesn’t prove causation. Moreover it needs to be remembered also that statistical associations, correlations, are themselves only probabilities and not certainties. Typically in social science and medicine, if there’s a 95% probability that the association is real, then it’s called statistically significant. So if you decide to find something associated with cervical cancer, say, try 100 variables and you’re likely to find 5 that only appear to be associated with it but actually are not. We don’t know how many bits of DNA were looked at when seeking associations of something, anything, with cervical cancer, before deciding that an association with a few but not all strains of HPV means something other than chance coincidence resulting from indiscriminate data mining.

Gardasil and Cervarix have not been shown to be of any significant health benefit. They have been demonstrated to cause serious injuries. It’s scandalous that they were ever approved, and it’s scandalous that they remain on the market.

And they are far from alone on those scores among new prescription medications introduced in the last couple of decades.

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