HolfordWatch and several other bloggers recently criticised Alison Gandey’s lamentable article on Medscape: HPV Vaccine Adverse Events Worrisome Says Key Investigator. We haven’t provided a direct link because the article has now been removed: it’s unclear whether or not it will re-appear in a modified form and without some of the more egregious material. The article was notable for its uncritical acceptance of germ theory dissent and reproducing antivax canards plus the lack of context setting for the report of adverse vaccine events.
It is good to see that Medscape is responsive to the displeasure of its readers who, as Dr Dave Gorski pointed out, expect much more from it that we do other outlets. But it is disappointing that they withdrew this post rather than explaning why it was unacceptable.
Update Aug 7: It looks as if Medscape does not fully understand why the article was lamentable (did they read the criticisms properly?). Medscape now has the chutzpah to run as blatant a pushpoll on its front page as I’ve seen in some time.
Serious neurologic, thromboembolic, and autoimmune complications have been reported in a small number of patients who received Merck’s HPV vaccine, prompting a recent joint advisory by the FDA and CDC. But the agencies emphasize that the vaccine is safe. How will this news change your use of the HPV vaccine?
There is still no context for the numbers for adverse events and serious adverse events. The original piece opened with these words:
Serious neurologic, thromboembolic, and autoimmune complications have been reported in patients who received human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. Although not the norm, experts suggest that the events are grave enough to encourage caution. “The side effects that have been reported are real and they cannot be brushed aside,” Diane Harper, MD, from the Dartmouth Medical School, in Hanover, New Hampshire, told Medscape Oncology. Dr. Harper was a principal investigator of clinical HPV vaccine trials for both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.
News reports of adverse events, teen paralysis, and death have fueled public concern.
HolfordWatch discussed the alarmism about the aluminium/aluminum content of Gardasil and Gandey’s credulous reporting of Dr Northrup’s germ theory dissent: Is the Aluminium Content of Gardasil a Potential Peril? Unlikely.
The New York Times has a Reporter’s File on Gardasil and cervical cancer with some interesting statistics for the US and useful links.
Jeff Bercovici makes some useful criticisms of this and related HPV vaccine reporting: HPV Vaccine Inspires Yellow Health Journalism. “Edelman’s reporting, while heavy on scare-mongering, is suspiciously light on the critical context a layperson needs to evaluate the evidence.” Bercovici discusses the unhelpful nature of the current VAERS which is a point that is also explored in Dr Dave Gorski’s piece.
Jim Edwards comments on mainstream media clumsiness in presenting the numbers: Could Merck Be About To Stumble Over Gardasil Adverse Event Reports?.
Dr Dave Gorski provides an extensive critique of the toxins canard and the inappropriateness of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System for these purposes: Germ theory denialism and antivaccination myths on Medscape. There is some further discussion of Dr Northrup and her germ theory dissent. He comments on the withdrawal: Medscape quietly pulls a bad news article.
Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has written on provocative piece on how “antivaxxers are potentially the Number One health hazard in America”: Antivaxxers and the media.
Denialism on Gardasil idiocy and the new Medscape pushpoll.
Update 13 August: Medscape is just compounding their original offence: Why, Medscape, why? Or: Gardasil is hunky-dory except when antivaccinationists say it’s not.
Update August 20: NYT writes the article that Medscape should have written from the outset: Drug Makers’ Push Leads to Cancer Vaccines’ Rise.