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Texas Lawsuit Causes Setback for Mandatory HPV Policies

A group of Texas parents have filed a law suit in response to Governor Rick Perry’s executive order mandating that all sixth grade girls receive Gardasil, the vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine, which was approved by the FDA in June 2006, prevents cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18.

Gov. Perry has defended the executive order that he issued earlier this month, despite allegations that he had financial ties with the drug manufacturer, Merck. Gov. Perry’s spokesperson Krista Moody said of the governor, “He takes his job as the leader of Texas very serious. He sees this vaccine as not only a fiscally responsible order but also one that has the potential to save the lives of thousands of women in Texas.”

In reaction to the recent controversy, Merck has announced that it will halt its lobbying campaign to convince state legislatures to adopt mandatory vaccination policies. Dr. Richard M. Haupt, the executive director for medical affairs in Merck’s vaccine division, said of the company’s decision, “Our goal is to prevent cervical cancer. Our goal is to reach as many females as possible. Right now, school requirements and Merck’s involvement in that are being viewed as a distraction to that goal,” the New York Times reports.

Several other states have considered requiring or promoting the vaccine, including Massachusetts where Governor Deval Patrick (D) made the vaccine available to all girls between the ages of nine and 18 at no cost.

Sources:

Dallas Morning News 2/23/07; International Herald Tribune 2/22/07; Medical News Today 2/27/07; New York Times 2/21/07

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