FDA panel recommends HPV vaccine approval

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The FDA's advisory panel has recommended approval of Merck's HPV vaccine, which is effective against the HPV strains that cause around 70% of cervical cancer. Various conservative groups have been making noises about how the HPV vaccine would encourage promiscuity. As Arthur Allen points out, abstinence advocate rely on doubts about condom's effectiveness on HPV in order to promote abstinence: (see also Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming:
Coburn, a family practice physician and a fierce opponent of abortion, subtly inserted the HPV message into the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act, a bill that passed by a 421-1 vote in the House of Representatives on May 9. The bill provides an estimated $250 million over the next five years to treat uninsured female cancer patients. But Coburn tacked on two controversial clauses, which went virtually unnoticed by the news media. The first orders the Food and Drug Administration to require condom labels to state that they do not protect against HPV. The second calls for the federal government to make HPV infection a reportable disease within two years.

While these don't at first glance seem like particularly insidious measures, many scientists and doctors who work on cervical cancer believe the requirements could lead to unfounded panic and loss of confidence in condoms, ultimately increasing the rate of sexually transmitted disease. The Coburn amendments, these critics say, manipulate the science to serve a poorly conceived idea.

"The subtext is that Coburn and his supporters don't want people to have sex," says a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "They're saying, 'Hey kids. Not only will you get AIDS. You'll get cancer, too!'"

That said, despite FDA's reliance on similar reasoning with respect to Plan B, I would be kind of surprised to see this vaccine actually being blocked. After all, lots of people want to get pregnant, but nobody really wants to get cervical cancer.