Thursday, October 11, 2007

Opposition to Assembly Bill 492


Chairman of the Assembly Public Health Committee:
Members of the Assembly Public Health Committee:
Legislators of the State of Wisconsin:
Fellow citizens of Wisconsin:

I am here to speak in opposition to Assembly Bill 492 and its companion bill Senate Bill 252. This bill would mandate the State Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) to collect information about the human papillomavirus (HPV) including the causes and symptoms of the virus, how it is spread, how it may be prevented, how to obtain additional information about the virus and the availability, effectiveness and risks of vaccination against the virus. The DHFS would then have to make the collected information available to public schools, private schools, and charter schools. Then each school board or governing body of each public, private, and charter school would have to provide the collected information to the parents and guardians of all pupils enrolled in grades 6 to 12. The HPV, spread only by sexual activity, leads to cervical cancers. The bill has the stated goal of preventing or curing those cancers. I speak as a Mother, Grandmother, and as a woman who loves kids. There are several reasons why I oppose this bill.

1. AB 492 would require every single school- public, private, and charter, to promote a vaccine manufactured by a single company, Merck. When and how did it become the responsibility of ordinary taxpayers to help one private company? Would this expand to taxpayers paying another drug company for promoting their drug, or another manufacturer to promote their car seat for kids, or their bicycle, because it was mandated by the Wisconsin Legislature? Since Merck has a record of marketing unsafe drugs, which resulted in those drugs being taken off the market, it is even more important that we residents of Wisconsin not be forced to support that company. Therefore it is not the duty nor right for the Wisconsin Assembly and/or Senate to promote the drug manufacturer, Merck.

2. Gardasil, the Merck drug that AB 492 would require every school and all parents of Junior High and High School age students to be informed about, has not even been proven to be safe. It was “approved” by the Food and Drug Administration in June, 2006 for females aged 9 to 26 after only a six month review. In the clinical trials, there were 25,000 subjects. Gardasil is not effective in persons with HPV so sexually inactive girls are the ideal immunization population. Unfortunately for them, 1184 young girls were used in the clinical trials. However, with 1184, or only 5% of the 25,000 people in the trials , being sexually inactive girls, it is clear that that Gardasil is really an untested product for 11 and 12 year old girls. What about adverse reactions to those who have already gotten this vaccine? Now only a year and three months after the FDA’s approval, the FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System has already received 2,207 reports of adverse side effects following HPV vaccination. 2125 of those reports came in since February of 2007. This shows that the adverse effects do not always show up immediately after the vaccination, certainly not after only six months! These reports include: 31 were considered life threatening; 1,385 required emergency room visits; 451 females at the time of the report had not recovered; 51 females were disabled when the report was filed; 5 girls died, ages 12, 15, 19 and two of unknown age. According to the Judicial Watch website, one female patient died of a blood clot three hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine. One 12 year old girl and one 19 year old girl died from heart problems and/or blood clotting after being vaccinated. To their credit, Merck and Co has published the side effects. They warn about potential pain, fever, nausea, dizziness, and itching, some of which are typical side effects to any vaccination. Other more serious side effects that Merck has published are: paralysis, Bells Palsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and seizures. These are short term reports! What will the reports be 5, 10, 15 years from now? The drug Gardasil is being promoted as being effective against cervical cancer, yet that disease does not develop until later in life - usually by age 50. There is absolutely no proof that girls immunized at ages 11& 12 will even “hold” their immunity that long! A Gardasil vaccination now may be worthless 20 years from now or it may have caused more serious, damaging side effects. Traditionally, the only vaccines that are mandated are drugs that have been in use for years!

3. Taxpayers could end up paying for hundreds of future medical lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits due to this drug, if the information is coming from our own state government and local schools. Why wouldn’t Merck and Co. be the recipient of these lawsuits? Because they have immunity from them! When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended after insufficient studies and long time use, that girls aged 11 & 12 receive Gardasil, Merck received immunity from lawsuits under a federal program called VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM, which is a public-paid insurance program. This means that Merck is legally blameless if children are injured by mandatory Gardasil vaccines and it means that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has to compensate them. Taxpayer money should not be used to compensate people for a drug known to have adverse reactions and that does not treat what it claims to treat.

4. I oppose this bill because of the cost to the taxpayers of Wisconsin. The cost of administering the drug Gardasil would be about $330 to $360 each, the highest priced vaccine ever produced. Merck would pocket 65% of that for about $234 per person. It is hard to calculate the cost of the distributing the information as required in this bill. First the Department of Health and Family Services, which is taxpayer funded, would be spending their time and effort on collecting and passing on the information. Why is that necessary? The facts about cervical cancer and Gardasil are already known by people in the medical field. Then the information would go to schools – and from them to the parents - another mandated rule for our schools to follow but no additional funds to carry it out – another cost for each school district. Yes, they could carry this obligation out by posting it on their web sites. Easy to do, but then it is also easily available for any student going to the web site to get their assignment or grades! This bill would cause unnecessary costs to Wisconsin taxpayers.

5. How effective is the drug Gardasil against HPV? This drug is effective against only four of the 100 known strains of these viruses. These four strains are responsible for only 60% to 70% of all cervical cancers. There is another, 100% effective prevention for cervical cancer and that is abstinence – abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage with one uninfected partner. HPV is a result of unrestricted sexual activity. To suggest that 11 and 12 year old girls be vaccinated for a disease that is caused by sexual activity, is to assume that they are going to be sexually active. Such an assumption may be true for some girls, but most certainly not all girls. Children live up to what you expect of them most of the time. If you teach and expect abstinence, most will be abstinent. If you expect promiscuity, they probably will be promiscuous. We should be teaching abstinence, and there are funds available for that. However, Gov. Doyle has directed the Department of Health and Family Services to turn down $600,000 in Title V Federal funds because of restrictions on what they could teach when using these funds.

6. I oppose this bill because the real goal of AB 492 is to prepare the way for mandating the vaccine for all girls going into sixth grade in this state. That was the bill brought in February, 2007, which failed due to a strong public backlash to such extreme measures. Senator Taylor and Representative Grigsby have said that they would like to see the HPV vaccination mandatory and are not done with this agenda yet. This bill is a stepping stone to mandating an unsafe drug to young girls whom it won’t help and will probably harm.

7. I oppose this bill because it is neither the state government’s responsibility, nor right, nor duty to decide what is best for the children, including the young girls that live in this state. Our young girls do not belong to the Federal government; they do not belong to the state government; they do not belong to the school districts. They are wonderful human beings, placed in families that are responsible to bring them up to adulthood. The families that I know love their children unconditionally; they want what is best for them; they do not want to see them harmed in any way; they want to see them grow up to being responsible, mature adults. Maybe the families you know are not like that. Maybe the families are broken and your neighborhood is in ruins. Maybe in your part of the state people are living in unsafe, unfriendly environments. If so, then make their world safer, not more dangerous by advocating, and eventually mandating the HPV vaccine Gardasil. Make their world safer by teaching and expecting abstinence. In the school district where I reside, the schools have taken driver’s education out of their curriculum, and the parents are solely responsible. That is what we need to do in regards to so-called education about sexually transmitted diseases. Keep the parents responsible for their job. The government needs to stop mandating everything that is done in our schools. Stay out of families’ daily lives. Please, leave our precious children alone.

In summary, I oppose AB 492/SB252 for these reasons: taxpayers should not have to pay for advertising for one specific company, or for telling people about an unsafe drug, or for funding lawsuits which the government is sure to incur. The drug being pushed is not safe, the clinical trials were totally flawed and too short, and it is only effective against some of the viruses that cause cervical cancer. AB492 would be a stepping stone to force all girls going into sixth grade to get this vaccine. That would be too much government interference in our schools and in our families.

I have a copy of my remarks, and some supporting information, for the members of the committee bringing this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to speak and thank you for listening.