Oct 7, 2008

A Quick Rant on Gardasil

Well, once again, what was intended to be about a sentence or so that didn’t fit in my Facebook status ended up being an intended short paragraph, which in turn, led to the note below. Also, understand that this was written quickly because I am supposed to be studying Greek at the moment, so there is probably some repetition and there are probably other assorted errors, these are just my usual scattered thoughts. Finally before I begin, I know it’s been forever and I do still want desperately to write on so many things (including the REALLY long-awaited series). Sorry folks, just still more snowed under than I know how to dig out of right now.


I am simply amazed with Gardasil. Merck has employed one of the greatest (and most underhanded) marketing strategies in recent history. If you watch one of the advertisements or read some of the literature, they have young, beautiful girls telling you how they don’t want their lives destroyed by cervical cancer and how this is the answer to that problem b/c they are now protected and won’t die. This is a good thing, I mean, cervical cancer is NASTY (to say the least) and who wants this beautiful, young, energetic, sincere, innocent young girl to die. Of course, I mean, hey, they found a vaccine that prevents her from getting it. I wouldn’t want my daughter to have to face that… seems pretty simple, right?!

Well folks, I am always amazed at marketing and advertising and how insanely deceptive they are. The whole idea of drug companies marketing to the consumer is preposterous and the subject of a much longer rant at some point, but for now let me simply say… the drugs should be marketed to the doctors, not the patient!!!! Folks, medicine is VERY, VERY complicated. Let me say it again, medicine is VERY, VERY complicated!!! People devote their lives to understanding the science behind the human body and the science of helping prolong death (which is the purpose of medicine btw). They are the specialist. However, the drug companies have figured out that if they tell the consumer to tell the doctor what they need, they sell more drugs. It’s really that simple. How is it possible for you the consumer, to know more than the specialist you are going to see?! Does a student set the course material for the teacher? No, the teacher sets the material according to the student (if indeed he is a good teacher). I have been teaching martial arts for 12 years now and students do not tell me what they need. I am the specialist and I will use the best methods I am aware of to teach the student according to his or her abilities. This is the educational method, it works, it is common sense. The students that do come to me, telling me how to do “A,” “B,” or “C” are the ones that don’t make it, at least until they figure out I do indeed know my specialty better than they do. Medicine is the same, but even more so. It’s bad enough that drug companies pay doctors to prescribe their medicines, that sways good medicine far enough, but now, a smiling, pretty face on the tv screen is telling consumers they understand their own needs and medicine better than their doctors. Wow, what a system!!! Ok, well, I ranted a little longer on that rabbit trail than I intended to (I know, I know, what else is new).

Back to the point… what is my problem with Gardasil? Well, it’s not a problem with the medicine itself. All the research* indicates that the medicine will in fact prevent certain types of cervical cancer, but the issue is what they are not telling you. What does this “miracle drug” do? Well, what it actually vaccinates against is most HPV (Human PapillomaVirus) infections. So, from there, they go on and on telling you how bad HPV is and how many people it affects and they really make it out to be something analogous to getting pneumonia or something. Yes, they are both bad and yes, they need to be treated. However, there is a HUGE deception in this type of marketing and even in the very definitions given by “neutral” sources such as Wikipedia. They go on forever describing how “bad” cervical cancer is and how bad HPV is, but they are deceiving the public en masse. What they are trying desperately to avoid saying is that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). We live in such an “under the rug” society, that our very dictionaries are refusing to be blunt and honest, but instead use alternate wording so that people will not be confronted with the hard truth, their sin. We are a deceived nation.

You have virtually no chance of getting this disease outside of living a morally loose lifestyle. Yes, you can technically get this through some other means, but guys, the statistical probability (scientific probability) is nearly zero, which, any good statistics student will tell you, is mathematically the same as none (ie: it’s possible, but get real). Thus, the function of Gardacil is to prevent the consequences of a sexually promiscuous lifestyle. It does not prevent cancer, it prevents HPV, which in turn can cause cervical cancer. So, they are presupposing a morally corrupt lifestyle in which the person is messing around enough to contract HPV (which for some is once and for others is closer to a lifetime) and that HPV will cause cervical cancer. You take any of those things out of the equation and you have a useless drug. The premise is a sexually promiscuous lifestyle. This is the very same thing as the old “hand out condoms in school” issue, except more underhanded.

The drug companies knew that they would not be able to sell nearly as much of their product if they included all of the information, so they are counting on consumer ignorance and a lack of consumer investigation and selling us a line. Unfortunately, many of us are on the hook once again! They know that they would not be able to sell much of their product if they were to simply say that it prevents an STD (which is the most accurate statement). Why? Because for most people, that is not going to be an issue. This is the same issue as that of giving teenagers birth control, people are trying to prevent the consequences of lifestyle choices. Again, the premise, or starting point, is wrong, so the end conclusion is wrong. I don’t have time right now to get into worldview issues and explain all of the statements given above (such as why I believe it is silly to give a teenager birth control), so let me say once again, that I admit I am operating from a Judeo-Christian worldview and since I know the Bible to be true and Christ’s standard to be authoritative, I must align myself with it.

The bottom line, they are skipping steps here folks! Though to different ends, the logic is analogous to the following example. Let’s suppose for a moment that I ran an advertisement that I have discovered that the government is murdering at least 1200 people a year in laboratory-like rooms by injecting them with toxins. I’ve done my research and the numbers are on the rise every year, but I’ve discovered a way to prevent this. I then run an emotionally charged ad talking about how so many families lost their dear loved ones to the evil government program. I even give a few testimonials from ladies like Sue, who is in tears because her oldest son little Tim will not be celebrating Christmas with them this year because the government murdered him in one of their labs. My answer is that I have found out that the government is keeping these poor people in holding tanks and many of them are executed every year and if they stay there long enough, their death is inevitable. Thus, I will pass legislation to ban these holding tanks, effectively preventing the murders committed in these concentration-camp-like places. This sounds great! I mean, I can prevent over 1200 murders a year with one simple act of legislation. Shoot, we will even be saving money because the buildings and labs will no longer be needed. This is GREAT!!! Ok, this is a cheesy example, but let me break it down. If you shoot someone and are convicted of murder, the government will send you to prison, and you will likely get the death penalty and be executed for your crimes. The execution is the consequence of your action. In this example, A (your crime) causes B (jail), which in turn causes C (the possible outcome of your actions). Thus where “-“ equals causation, A-(B-C). In my example, I used particular language to misrepresent C and herald B as the problem (also using particular language to conceal the true nature of B). I neglected to mention A at all. The marketers of Gardasil have used the very same logic. Sexual promiscuity may cause an STD, which may in turn cause certain types of cervical cancer. Gardasil does in fact prevent some HPV, thus preventing some cancers, but it is false logic and deception. They focus on talking about how it prevents certain types of cervical cancer so that all the average consumer hears is “prevents… (Cervical) cancer,” and they know it (folks, marketing is nothing but psychology).

So, if you are a woman and are going to be sexually promiscuous, then you may indeed want to get this medicine, but don’t deceive yourself as to why you are getting it. If you are a parent, understand that you are putting yet another foreign substance into your daughter’s body** and you are not preventing cancer, but a sexually transmitted disease, effectively telling your children that personal responsibility is not a reality, that you don’t trust them, and/or that they can now be promiscuous without having to worry about this consequence. This is the true bottom line and it is despicable to play upon parent’s emotions to sell drugs that prevent consequences, and under false pretenses at that!

I’m truly amazed folks; once again, truly amazed!

*not that I’ve read it all, but I’ve talked with several very knowledgeable medical folks, one of whom is an experienced “female” doctor, and done a little independent reading

**hey, I’m for medicine, but all medicines have consequences and though we do take lots of medicines and I think there are many, many good ones, a medical reality is that every substance affects your body and we only understand enough to know that we don’t understand all of the consequences, especially where new medicines are concerned (anyone remember the iud nightmares). The thing is, medicine is a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, as the saying goes, in very dim light. Chemo is another example… it is better to be weak and a mess and alive, than to die anyway, but chemo does have some very negative consequences… ok, officially ranting again ;).


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