Reproductive Rights and the State: Getting the Birth Control, RU-486, Morning-after Pills and the Gardasil Vaccine to the U.S. Market

By Melissa Haussman | Go to book overview

7
Reverse Lobbying for Gardasil

The Gardasil vaccine, manufactured by Merck for preventing four strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), has held a privileged position in the history of U.S. state and market treatment of women’s reproductive drugs. Unlike the three other drugs discussed in this book, for which doctors, scientists, and the pro-choice women’s community lobbied for decades, the Gardasil vaccine essentially sprang from a vacuum. A pressing, demonstrated need had not been established by the time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in June 2006. Also, clinical trials had not yet been done on girls under the age of 11. This drug and Viagra for men, which was approved by the FDA in fewer than six months, are the two outliers in the typical history of state and market neglect to develop reproductive-related drugs. As has been shown earlier, while other actors typically have to cover the costs of research for these drugs up front, the pharma companies who license these drugs profit handsomely over the lifetime of their patents.

Gardasil covers four strands of the HPV, two of which have the strongest possibility to produce cervical, genital, and anal cancers. Seventy percent of such cancers are caused by HPV types 16 and 18. Gardasil was additionally engineered to target HPV strands 6 and 11 that can cause 90 percent of genital warts, although such warts do not lead to cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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