It was reported Monday that the head of the vaccine division of pharmaceutical company Merck, Julie L. Gerberding, sold 38,368 shares of Merck stock on Friday, May 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $60.99, for a total transaction of $2,340,064.32.
Why should you care? Granted, she makes more than you and I do, but ‘the workman is worthy of his wages,’ right? Why should we care about her sweet little bonus?
Gerberding used to work for the government. Specifically, she was head of the Centers for Disease Control until January, 2009. During her tenure there, the CDC recommended that girls should be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus starting at age 11. The vaccine is called Gardisil. Guess what company makes it?
When Gerberding left government service in 2009, she went to work for Merck. In an interview in Fierce Biotech in 2013, she said Merck had been “unable to globalize access to some of its ‘really incredible vaccines…Being able to take these products, manufacture them and commercialize them in a more cost-effective way so they can reach the girls and boys who need them most is a wonderful opportunity.'”
However, not everyone is such a big fan of Gardisil. One of the doctors who actually developed it, Diane Harper, says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine. She says data available for Gardasil shows that it lasts five years, and that, in fact, there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years.
“If we vaccinate 11-year-olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects…for no benefit,” she said. “The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.”
She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it claims to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.
But hey, what are a few risky side effects, as long as Gerberding gets her two million dollar bonus?
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