We recently explained Why Medscape Should Have Issued A Correction rather than just withdraw their lamentable article on Gardasil and the safety profile of HPV vaccines.
We were wrong. Medscape should have published an adequate and appropriate correction. Instead, they wrote some sensible material and then solicited input from a notorious anti-vaccinationist and the result borders on abusing the time that readers spend reading this replacement: HPV Vaccine Deemed Safe and Effective, Despite Reports of Adverse Events (free registration). Orac is not mollified: Why, Medscape, why? Or: Gardasil is hunky-dory except when antivaccinationists say it’s not.
Yes, that Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of one of the oldest antivaccine websites in existence, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and the blogger behind the prominent antivaccine blog Vaccine Awakening…Quoting Fisher about vaccines is akin to quoting Count Dracula about garlic, sharpened wooden sticks, and that man Abraham Van Helsing. Indeed, Arthur Allen described her in his book Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Life’s Greatest Lifesaver, thusly:
To be sure, Barbara Loe Fisher and Kathi Williams defined themselves as consumer safety advocates, denying that they were “antivaccine.” But this self-definition was problematic, because they viewed mass vaccination itself as a dangerous process of questionable value. They felt that vaccines were a small or negative contribution to health and should be optional. When I asked Fisher whether she felt there were any “good” vaccines, she declined to mention any specifically but resopnded that she supported “the availability of the safest, least toxic, most advance vaccines that can be produced as a health care option for anybody who wants to use them.”
Read Orac for the full horror. Medscape – stop digging. This is not helping anyone and it is actively damaging your reputation. As Orac points out, the cult of ‘balanced journalism’ is a chimera and it is an absurdity in cases such as this. Worse than that, it perpetuates actively harmful myths by causing fear and alarm and it adds to the pundit brand equity of commentators such as Fisher.
Update August 20: NYT writes the article that Medscape should have written from the outset: Drug Makers’ Push Leads to Cancer Vaccines’ Rise.