Hype About New HPV Vaccine is More Good Marketing than Good Medicine

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Women to Women, whose website is one of the most prominent women’s health sites on the internet, posted a warning today about the recent “hype” over a newly-developed vaccine for HPV, the human papilloma virus, which affects millions of women. “The drug company behind the vaccine is already promoting it as a cure-all solution. The ad campaign, titled ‘Tell Someone,’ has created false hope among women that this new vaccine will make the HPV problem go away,” says Marcy Holmes, a practitioner at Women to Women.

Women to Women, whose website is one of the most prominent women’s health sites on the internet, posted a warning today about the recent “hype” over a newly-developed vaccine for HPV, the human papilloma virus, which affects millions of women.

“The drug company behind the vaccine is already promoting it as a cure-all solution. The ad campaign, titled ‘Tell Someone,’ has created false hope among women that this new vaccine will make the HPV problem go away,” says Marcy Holmes, a practitioner at Women to Women.

“What the commercials don’t make clear is that the vaccine is meant for very young women who have had no prior sexual contact. What’s worse, while over 20 strains of HPV are considered high-risk, the vaccine only targets 2–4 of them — hardly a true preventative,” says Marcelle Pick, a founder of the Women to Women clinic.

Holmes adds, “Many vaccines can have negative effects on health and this new vaccine has not been studied in sufficient depth or over sufficient time to ascertain its long-term safety. The truth is we just do not know enough yet to be generating this kind of hype,” says Holmes.

Responding to reports that the vaccine may even be mandated, Pick comments, “Talk of mandating such a vaccine for young women is very premature. We simply do not have enough information to warrant such an extreme step. Little is known at this point about the vaccine’s long-term side effects or its interaction with other drugs. In addition, many of the test study details — information such as whether any recipients were immune suppressed and other possible drug interactions — are still unknown.”

“The public relations campaign behind the new vaccine may be good marketing — or even good shareholder relations — but it isn’t responsible medicine,” adds Holmes. “I would call this a promising advance that may one day yield an effective therapy — one we could recommend to our patients. But not yet.”

Marcelle Pick adds, “My concern is that this kind of public relations campaign also promotes the idea that there can be a kind of magic pill to solve the HPV problem. The reality is that HPV infection is a net result of exposure plus a weakened immune system. There are ways to reduce the risk of exposure and to enhance immune function, but reliance on a vaccine for HPV may lead women to ignore the underlying causes.”

For more information, see:

Women to Women gives Gardasil guarded reviews

http://www.womentowomen.com/sexualityandfertility/gardasil-landing.asp

HPV, genital warts, and Pap smears

http://www.womentowomen.com/sexualityandfertility/abnormalpapsmearsandhpv.asp

References and further reading

http://www.womentowomen.com/sexualityandfertility/hpvvaccine-references.asp

Women to Women is America’s leading medical practice devoted to health care for women, by women. Founded over 21 years ago, it has always advocated an approach to women’s health that combines the best of alternative and conventional medicine. Through its practice, website, and publications, Women to Women supports over a million women a year in their efforts to create health and well-being in their lives.

Contact: Donna Poulin, Practice Manager, Women to Women, 3 Marina Road, Yarmouth, Maine, 04096. Tel: 207-846-6163.

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