Do Perry and most of the media think they can get away with a complete cover up of the government’s own CDC data?
In the past few days, Governor Perry has tried to dismiss serious medical concerns over the HPV vaccine that he attempted to mandate in Texas. His strategy has been to keep the focus solely on rival GOP candidate Michele Bachmann’s story of a woman who claimed her daughter became mentally retarded after receiving the vaccine: “I think that was a statement that had no truth in it, no basis in fact.”
Perry intentionally ignored the shocking statistics about the HPV vaccine available at the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System website. The Center received a total of 18,727 reports of adverse events following Gardasil HPV vaccination, with 1,498 of them (8%) considered “serious”—such as blood clots, the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and 68 reports of death.
The fact that the data come from the government’s Center for Disease Control is particularly ironic, since the CDC’s former director, Dr. Julie Gerberding—who was essentially in charge of federal government decision-making about vaccines and disease-response programs—resigned in 2010 to become president of Merck Pharmaceuticals’ vaccine division. Merck is the maker of the HPV vaccine.
Perry isn’t the only party covering up the damning CDC data. Mainstream media and university spokespeople have also failed to do basic research on the HPV vaccine. In a recent Associated Press story, a reporter wrote, “Studies have found no serious side effects, with the most common reactions being redness or swelling at the injection site.” This is an incredible misstatement of fact, one which has not been corrected by the AP. And there have been other stories like it: the New York Times is saying the evidence shows the vaccine is safe—without mentioning the CDC at all.
Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, erroneously claimed that “The data show that the vaccine is safe and effective” and said that “It’s ethically obscene” to scare parents away from the vaccine. While the most common reactions might be redness or swelling at the injection site, to omit the existence of serious possible side effects (including death!) seems to us to be—well, “ethically obscene” is the phrase that comes to mind.
Vaccine Safety Isn’t the Only Area Where Perry Hasn’t Told the truth
This all took off at the September 12 Republican presidential candidate debate, when Michele Bachmann attacked Rick Perry for taking “thousands of dollars in political donations” from Merck, the global pharmaceutical and chemical company, and noted that the governor’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for the drug company. She implied that those deep connections led to Perry’s executive order mandating human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine be given to all pre-teen girls in Texas. Perry then said “It was [just]a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them.”
The truth is very different. Perry received tens of thousands of dollars from the Merck PAC during his tenure as governor (Bloomberg says “at least $23,500,” while the Washington Post says it was “nearly $30,000,” including $5,000 in 2006, one year before his HPV executive order). Merck also donated somewhere between $380,000 and $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which Perry chaired twice and which is a major Perry campaign contributor.
The executive order was issued when his chief of staff, Mike Toomey, was working for the Texas Lobby Group, which is retained by Merck. Merck paid Toomey as much as $535,000 in lobbying fees to promote Gardasil between 2005 and 2010. And where is Toomey today? He’s Perry’s “super PAC” coordinator.
Sarah Palin, commenting on the debate, called Perry’s involvement with Merck “crony capitalism.” Of course, she doesn’t seem to realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vaccine crony capitalism, as we pointed out recently. With many lucrative drug patents expiring, pushing vaccines is a good way for Big Pharma to restore their profits.
Ron Paul slammed Perry for the executive order in the September 7 debate, calling it “not good medicine…not good social policy,” and objected to the mandate being done through executive order despite protests from the Texas legislature—who voted overwhelmingly to repeal the order.
The bottom line here: Governor Perry isn’t telling the truth either about the safety record of the HPV vaccine or about the money he has received from Merck.