Monday, August 14, 2006

Merck's Gardasil & Profit-Driven Health Care

Merck's new Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine, has burst on the scene as the latest and greatest wonder drug.

This would be great news since cervical cancer kills 233,000 women worldwide each year, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's endorsement of Gardasil is unequivocal: All girls and women ages 11 to 26 should be innoculated. Merck says that guys should be, too.

Not so fast there, says Maggie Mahar in an American Prospect article.

Mahar notes that it's worth asking a few questions:
Why does the vaccine cost $360 for a three-shot regimen? How much do we know about the new product? And is this a cost-effective use of health-care dollars? The answers to these questions tell us as much about the American system of money-driven medicine as they do about the vaccine itself. The goal of our health-care industry is to generate profits. This should not come as a shock: by law, corporations are required to put their shareholders’ interests first. But unless someone sits on the other side of the table, pushing back, profits will always come ahead of patients' needs. And low-cost preventive care will always take a back seat to high-cost treatment and so-called cures.
Click here to read her article.

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