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

This morning's news from America provides a vivid example of government corruption involving pharmaceutical lobbying, bribing and manipulating health care policy decisions. 

 Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, has issued an order to vaccinate ALL Texas girls with Merck's STD vaccine without a thought about the possible adverse side effects that may pose serious risks to these girls–especially their reproductive function. 

Not so long ago, hormone replacement therapy was widely prescribed on the
basis of CLAIMS that turned out to be false. HRT was supposed to reduce
breast cancer, stroke, and heart attacks–not only did it fail to deliver on
these promises, HRT increased ovarian cancer. 

A science teacher who learned about the order wrote to us this morning: "I
am so bothered by the speed by which adults are ready to put chemicals into
little girls bodies without a full understanding of what harm those
chemicals could cause in the short and long term. Is there any kind of
campaign against this being waged?" The Governor of Texas clearly has given
no consieration for the potential harm that his order might cause the girls.

Noteworthy are the ties that bind the Governor to Merck and to Women in
Government, the group that Merck paid to lobby for this mind-boggling order.
The Associated Press reports that one of Merck's three lobbyists in Texas is
Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's
mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state
director for Women in Government.
The governor also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee
during his re-election campaign.

Also noteworthy is that under then governor George W. Bush, TMAP, the
pharmaceutical manufacturers' cash cow to mega-billion dollar cash
transference from the public purse to Big Pharma, was launched. TMAP (Texas
mediction algorithm project) is the vehicle that catapulted psychotropic
drugs–in particular patent protected antidepressants and antipsychotics–to
blockbuster status despite lack of scientific evidence that the drugs work
to improve mental health, and despite evidence that these drugs wreak havoc
on both the mental and physical health of consumers.  

Health care policy under the influence of Big Pharma isillustrated by 13
year old Aliah Gleason of Texas who was prescribed 12 psychotropic drugs
–many simultaneously–without her parents' consent. See: Waters, R.
Medicating Aliah, Mother Jones, May/June 2005
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2005/05/medicating_aliah.html

Governor Perry, does your order to vaccinate all 11 year old girls mean that
you are eliminating parental rights?
What if parents refuse to give consent to vaccinate their daughter?
 

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
212-595-8974
veracare@ahrp.org

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Texas governor orders STD vaccine for all girls
Decision comes after maker of cervical cancer shot doubled lobbying efforts
Updated: 5:59 p.m. ET Feb 2, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas – Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick
Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that
schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that
causes cervical cancer.
By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the
Legislature from conservatives and parents' rights groups who fear such a
requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans
raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade – meaning,
generally, girls ages 11 and 12 – will have to receive Gardasil, Merck &
Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available
free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover
vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages
19 to 21.

Perry, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research
using embryonic cells, counts on the religious right for his political base.
But he has said the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one
that protects children against polio. "The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer," Perry said.

Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating
Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in
Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group
made up of female state legislators around the country.

Perry tied to Merck
Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's
three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. His
current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne
White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.
The governor also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee
during his re-election campaign.

The order is effective until Perry or a successor changes it, and the
Legislature has no authority to repeal it, said Perry spokeswoman Krista
Moody. Moody said the Texas Constitution permits the governor, as head of
the executive branch, to order other members of the executive branch to
adopt rules like this one.

Legislative aides said they are looking for ways around the order for
parents who oppose it.
"He's circumventing the will of the people," said Dawn Richardson, president
of Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education, a citizens group that fought
for the right to opt out of other vaccine requirements. "There are bills
filed. There's no emergency except in the boardrooms of Merck, where this is
failing to gain the support that they had expected."

Opt-out option for parents
Texas allows parents to opt out of inoculations by filing an affidavit
objecting to the vaccine on religious or philosophical reasons. Even with
such provisions, however, conservative groups say such requirements
interfere with parents' rights to make medical decisions for their children.

The federal government approved Gardasil in June, and a government advisory
panel has recommended that all girls get the shots at 11 and 12, before they
are likely to be sexually active.

The New Jersey-based drug company could generate billions in sales if
Gardasil – at $360 for the three-shot regimen – were made mandatory across
the country. Most insurance companies now cover the vaccine, which has been
shown to have no serious side effects.
Merck spokeswoman Janet Skidmore would not say how much the company is
spending on lobbyists or how much it has donated to Women in Government.
Susan Crosby, the group's president, also declined to specify how much the
drug company gave.

A top official from Merck's vaccine division sits on Women in Government's
business council, and many of the bills around the country have been
introduced by members of Women in Government.

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