Thank retired Colonel John Grabenstein, Merck Vaccine’s King of Spin, for the following marketing technique, which detours around all FDA regulations about what companies can tell doctors regarding their products.
If the issue was stopping the spread of HPV, then CONDOMS would be the most effective strategy.
Here’s the strategy Merck used, delivered to my email today so I could learn how to talk patients into this vaccine:
* Get your vaccine recommended by CDC’s advisory committee (ACIP) for all 11 through 21 year old boys to prevent the dread disease GENITAL WARTS
* Hire a “communications company” to “sponsor” a program about your product for doctors. In this case:
* Since the program is not coming directly from Merck, it can make any claims it wants for the product, and absolutely no one can be blamed:
Statements and opinions expressed herein are those of the faculty and not necessarily those of the editor(s), publisher, CME sponsor, or Merck & Co., Inc. The editor(s) and publisher disclaim any responsibility or liability for such material and do not guarantee, warrant, or endorse any product or service communicated in this educational activity. These materials may discuss therapeutic products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and/or off-label uses of approved products. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product discussed. Viewers of this program should verify all information and data before treating patients or employing any therapies described in this educational activity.
The program early on has a “vignette” that indicates the vaccine is close to 100% effective for two strains causing 70% of cervical cancers, and that the immunity is very long-lasting. These claims are questionable–Nass
(We have been told–in the fine print–not to believe what has been communicated!)
* Blatantly, the fine print admits (under “Click here to view program”):
* Merck’s communications company hired marionettes who teach at medical and nursing schools (but also happen to be on Merck’s advisory boards) to “write” presentations about Merck’s vaccine (except the materials they “wrote” have been copyrighted by the communications company, not the puppet professors)
* Merck’s puppets tell doctors they have the answer to a life-threatening condition… which requires rooting out the “barriers to vaccination”:
With life threatening consequences such as cervical, anal, penis, and various head and neck cancers, clinicians need to be able to recognize barriers to vaccination, understand current clinical evidence, and to effectively communicate/counsel their patients about the clinical evidence, safety and efficacy of available vaccines.
* A For-Profit, second-rate journal (owned by Elsevier) was paid to stand behind these marketing materials for your vaccine, packaged as if it was unbiased information. A University (Purdue) was paid to provide additional cover.
* The journal claimed the program was “peer-reviewed” and therefore meets the highest standards of medical journalism.
* Doctors were given free continuing education credits for watching the presentations
* Just in case there is any question at all about liability… such as not telling the truth about side effects and lack of demonstrated cancer prevention–doctors are required to *click* that they have reviewed the faculty disclosures, before they can view the program! So if a doctor then uses the product off-label and problems ensue, it is the doctor’s fault, because the doctor should have known the program was biased!
Wonder if the FDA will shut this educational activity down?