Drug maker Merck & Co. is helping finance campaigns to get states in the US to pass legislation that would make it mandatory for girls as young as 11 or 12 to receive a new vaccine that protects against sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), the Associated Press reported.
Merck makes the vaccine, called Gardasil, which guards against strains of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Currently, at least 18 states are debating whether to make the vaccine mandatory for schoolgirls.
The drug company has given money to Women in Government, an advocacy group that includes female state legislators throughout the United States. Many of the state bills advocating the use of Gardasil have been introduced by members of Women in Government, the AP reported.
Some parents'-rights and conservative groups charge that Merck is engaging in underhanded lobbying. These groups say making the vaccine mandatory would encourage premarital sex and interfere with how parents raise their children.
But Merck said it has been open about the fact that it provides funding to Women in Government, the AP said.
Gardasil was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in June 2006. An FDA advisory panel recommended that all girls get the vaccine at ages 11 or 12, before they are sexually active. – (HealthDayNews)
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