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Gardasil Researcher Questions Safety, Effectiveness of HPV Vaccines

Oct 29, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

A medical researcher who played a role in the development of both Gardasil and Cervarix recently asserted that neither HPV vaccine would do much to reduce cervical cancer rates in the U.S. According to a report on, Dr. Diane Harper also said the HPV vaccines should not be administered to girls under 15.

Gardasil  prevents four strains of HPV, two of which cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers. The other two HPV strains are responsible for about 90 percent of genital warts.  Cervarix, approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) just this month, protects against two strains of HPV that cause more than 70% of cases of cervical cancer in women.  

Dr. Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, was the lead researcher in developing both vaccines, said.  She was supposed to address the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2-4 on the effectiveness of both Gardasil and Cerarvix, but her remarks took a decidedly different turn.

According to, Dr. Harper  asserted that the evidence shows that the vaccine does little to reduce cervical cancer, beyond current preventative measures. She argued that the incidence of cervical cancer in the U.S. is already so low that “even if we get the vaccine and continue PAP screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.”  

Dr. Harper also warned that Merck & Co., the maker of Gardasil, had not tested Gardasil on girls younger than 15, said.

This is not the first time Dr. Harper has made such assertions.  According to the Philadelphia Bulletin, in 2007 she told  KPC much the same thing.  “It is silly to mandate vaccination of 11 to 12 year old girls. There also is not enough evidence gathered on side effects to know that safety is not an issue,” warned Harper.

According to a report from the Population Research Institute, 15,037 girls have officially reported adverse side effects from Gardasil to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). These adverse reactions include Guilliane-Barre syndrome, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots and brain inflammation.  The Centers for Disease Control has  acknowledged 44 reported deaths following Gardasil administration.

According to, Dr. Harper was asked why she was criticizing vaccines she helped develop.  Her response:  “I want to be able to sleep with myself when I go to bed at night."

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