Merck is pushing back against political shots aimed at its HPV vaccine Gardasil, which has become a political football in the Republican presidential primary race.
The New Jersey-based drug maker circulated a lengthy statement and fact sheet Sept. 13 after Rep. Michele Bachmann suggested in national TV appearances that Gardasil, typically administered to teenage girls, can cause mental retardation.
“The facts about Gardasil are clear,” Merck said in a statement, tying the drug to prevention of cervical cancer. “The efficacy and safety of Gardasil was established in clinical trials in thousands of patients.”
Bachmann in a Sept. 12 debate on CNN said a woman approached her crying to say her daughter “suffered mental retardation as a result” of an HPV vaccine. “There are very dangerous consequences,” Bachmann said, before repeating the allegation on NBC’s “The Today Show” on Sept. 13.
The Minnesota Congresswoman has sought to leverage the vaccine against front-runner and Texas governor, Rick Perry, who mandated HPV vaccines for young women in his state. He also took donations from Merck and his former chief of staff lobbies for the company.
Edelman and Cohn & Wolfe/GCI have worked PR for Merck’s Gardasil business since its approval in 2006.