Merck has funneled money to Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country, and a top official from Merck's vaccine division sits on Women in Government's business council.
At least 18 states are debating whether or not to make Merck's vaccine Gardasil mandatory for schoolgirls. Many of these bills have been introduced by members of Women in Government.
Gardasil protects against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.
Although Merck openly admits its lobbying ties with Women in Government, the mega-drugmaker won't say how much money they're funneling through the non-profit. But here's a possible measuring stick: With Merck doubling its spending on lobbying, just in Texas, to some $250,000, multiply that by 18 and you get almost $5 million.
Spending $5 million (or some $12.5 million if you're considering the whole country) is mere chump change compared to the $1 BILLION Merck could earn annually from Gardasil, says one drug industry analyst.
A New England Journal of Medicine study found the use of condoms reduces the incidence of HPV by 70 percent. And just a reminder, more than 6 million women contract HPV annually, but a woman's immune system is often strong enough to clear up this infection on its own; it's virtually 100 percent avoidable without a vaccine.
If you really want to protect yourself against HPV, in addition to wise sexual practices you can strengthen your immune system by:
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