New Hampshire has critics of the vaccine, too. But its health officials, wanting to encourage use of the vaccine, called Gardasil, say they have hit on an optimal method: making it voluntary and giving it free to girls ages 11 to 18.
1. In the FUTURE I trial, GARDASIL demonstrated no clinical efficacy among the general subject population for overall reduction in the rates of grade 2 and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma -- the only recognized precursors to cervical cancer.
2. In the larger FUTURE II trial, GARDASIL demonstrated no clinical efficacy among the general subject population for overall reduction in the rates of grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma -- the strongest (and many would argue only valid) precursors to cervical cancer.
3. Extrapolating from GARDASIL's very limited clinical "success" (in the FUTURE II study only) against grade 2 cervical dysplasias (40% of which regress spontaneously), 129 women would be have to be vaccinated (at a cost of about $60,000) to prevent a single grade 2 cervical dysplasia.
4. GARDASIL's protection against cancer associated HPV strains 16 and 18 appears to cause a disproportionate increase in of pre-cancerous dysplasias associated with other HPV strains associated with cervical cancer "raising the possibility that other oncogenic HPV types eventually filled the biologic niche left behind after the elimination of HPV types 16 and 18."
5. Even if you segregate out the women who hadn't been previously exposed to either HPV 16 or 18, we are talking about just a 17% decrease in all high grade dysplasias (266 out of 6080 vs. 219 out of 6087) -- many of which would spontaneously regress without treatment. So we would have vaccinate 129 women (at about $500 for the three shot regimen) to avoid a single, eminently treatable dysplasia. That's about $60,000 per dysplasia prevented.
This is all directly from the article linked above.
I myself would add that we currently have only 3 years of follow up to go on in terms of both GARDASIL's safety and efficacy among the 16 to 26 year female population, no data concerning its efficacy among 9 to 12 year old girls and only 18 months of follow up on less than 600 total preteen girls in terms of safety data about GARDASIL within its targeted population.
By "effective" I meant effective at enticing girls to have the vaccine. It's true that the cost/effectiveness of the vaccine is something that remains to be seriously debated before we rush into government mandates. That's why it's so frustrating to see the NEJM giving such prominent voice in its pages to the old canard that objections to the vaccine are based on morality.
It's nice to see this editorial as a counterweight to the perspective article published in the same issue.