Well here's a topic I haven't written about in awhile: Gardasil.
As longtime readers may remember, I've covered the scare tactics used to sell the "cervical cancer vaccine" (it isn't one- even if you have enough money and time to get the three separate shots, you can still get cervical cancer), and the reports that the vaccine isn't as effective as Merck led us to believe.
The latest news is that Fortune has declared the vaccine a business failure:
But four years after Merck (MRK, Fortune 500) released this would-be top-seller, called Gardasil, it has proven to be a marketplace dud. In Merck's second quarter, the company reported an 18% year-over-year drop in sales to $219 million and its stock is down nearly 3% to date. Analysts are pointing to Gardasil not as a savior, but as a risk for investors.
So how come? The three shot requirement is partly to blame. Most women don't get all three shots, even though they are reminded via emails and text messages. Fortune lists other reasons at the link, which you can read, but this one popped out at me:
2) Some parents aren't comfortable vaccinating young children against a virus they can only get from having sex.
In 2007, when Texas governor Rick Perry issued an executive order that all girls entering the 6th grade would receive Gardasil, parents were furious. Some argued that the vaccine would promote promiscuity. The order was eventually overturned.
Ah, yes. I knew this one was coming.
Because the vaccine prevents some strains of the human papillomavirus, which is sexually transmitted, parents worry that giving their daughters these shots would make them "promiscuous." Adults are always wringing their hands over the sexual lives of young people, and this hand-wringing is usually what keeps young people from getting access to the types of tools that can keep them safe when they do decide to have sex, like condoms in schools, allowing teens younger than 17 to buy Plan B without a perscription, and deciding to give them the only vaccinne that can prevent a very common STD. Vaccines, condoms and Plan B don't make teens have sex, hormones do.
And, notably, once Merck decided to seek FDA approval for the vaccine in boys, the conversation switched from slutiness to health benefits. It was approved for preventing genital warts in boys last year.