Merck is likely quite displeased with the barrage of negative press about its cervical cancer vaccine's side effects, especially after a public interest group, Judicial Watch, released a report at the end of last month saying there were 9,749 adverse reactions and 21 reported deaths related to Gardasil in the last two years.
According to the report, there have been 78 severe outbreaks of genital warts, six cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome and at least 10 miscarriages reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) since the approval of Gardasil. However, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that clinicians, patients and drug companies report only about 10 percent of side effects to VAERS, so the actual number of Gardasil side effects could be much higher.
Some experts say Merck has also overstated the vaccine's effectiveness and that the evidence just isn't there yet. In light of the potential side effects and the drugs' young female target audience, many also are questioning Merck's continual push to place the drug on state mandatory vaccine lists.
For its part, Merck says there is no evidence that the vaccine and the reported side effects and deaths are related, and the CDC plans to release a study in October that will help determine whether a true linkage between Gardasil and the reported adverse reactions exists.