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The Texas Controversy Over the Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Charles, Abigail S.

When GARDASIL, a vaccine protecting against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2006, it sparked political and social debate among legislatures as well as advocacy groups. By drafting and submitting legislation for the mandatory vaccination against HPV for middle school girls in Texas on November 14th 2006, Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) officially began the legislative process in the Texas House of Representatives. In response, tension and protest among political conservatives, religious advocacy groups, parental rights groups, as well as Merck — the pharmaceutical company responsible for the development and sale of the drug — ensued. Proponents championed the pro-life capabilities while opposition groups questioned the drugs alleged safety despite the findings in studies conducted by Merck. The pharmaceutical giant's modus operandi of lobbying states to implement the use of its drug raised suspicion, as well as, the disclosed and undisclosed cash disbursements to interest groups and politicians. The issuance of the Executive Order by Governor Rick Perry of Texas to pilot state monies toward the purchase and administration of GARDASIL, proved only to intensify the already volatile situation. This method bypassed the normal legislative process, raising questions about the infringement on the democratic process. Inevitably, as the quagmire between social responsibility and political ideologies unfolds, the options for reaching a consensus may prove to be limited. Yet, as competing opponents and proponents strive to make their interests heard, their demands will not cease until a compromise is reached.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Published Here
November 17, 2010