Three years ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine Gardasil, which protects against human papillomaviruses (HPV). The category includes around 100 sexually transmitted viruses that are the primary cause of cervical cancer. By the end of last year more than 23 million doses had been distributed ? enough to vaccinate seven million girls.
A new government study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has raised some concerns about side effects associated with the drug. Merck, the drug's manufacturer, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain Gardasil is safe and effective, and that adequate warnings are provided. To find out more, we speak with Diane Harper, a physician and one of the lead researchers for Merck's Gardasil clinical trials. She has been speaking out in favor of more warnings. We also speak with Sheila Rothman, a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. For one parent's point of view, we talk to Kenye Jones-Downing about whether she plans to give her daughter the vaccine.