Just something I came across:
Pharmaceutical Companies’ Role in State Vaccination Policymaking: The Case of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination
Objectives. We sought to investigate roles that Merck & Co Inc played in state human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization policymaking, to elicit key stakeholders’ perceptions of the appropriateness of these activities, and to explore implications for relationships between health policymakers and industry.
Merck promoted school-entry mandate legislation by serving as an information resource, lobbying legislators, drafting legislation, mobilizing female legislators and physician organizations, conducting consumer marketing campaigns, and filling gaps in access to the vaccine. Legislators relied heavily on Merck for scientific information. Most stakeholders found lobbying by vaccine manufacturers acceptable in principle, but perceived that Merck had acted too aggressively and nontransparently in this case.
Conclusions. Although policymakers acknowledge the utility of manufacturers’ involvement in vaccination policymaking, industry lobbying that is overly aggressive, not fully transparent, or not divorced from financial contributions to lawmakers risks undermining the prospects for legislation to foster uptake of new vaccines.
A remarkable burst of legislative activity followed. Within a year, legislation relating to the vaccine was introduced in 41 states and the District of Columbia, including bills in 24 states that would mandate HPV vaccination for 6th-grade girls.3
Interest in the political forces behind HPV legislation remains high.4 Following media reports that Merck was heavily involved in promoting school-entry mandates, questions arose about the extent and appropriateness of industry involvement in vaccine policy. The presidential candidacy of Texas Governor Rick Perry recently prompted a new round of public and media scrutiny of the issue after opponent Representative Michele Bachmann accused the governor of ordering girls to receive the HPV vaccination because of his financial and political ties to Merck.5 We aimed to investigate these industry roles and elicit key stakeholders’ perceptions of their appropriateness and effects on policy outcomes.
Merck engaged in direct lobbying to varying degrees in all of the states we studied. Merck proactively contacted legislators to discuss strategies to maximize uptake of Gardasil, either directly through company employees or by using local political consultants, prominent physicians, or public relations firms.
Many respondents reported that company representatives proposed specific legislation, often drafting the bills and searching for a sponsor. In most states, their efforts focused on a school-entry mandate. Respondents pointed out that Merck’s activities were not unusual, although the public seemed to have been unaware that private companies played such a role in the legislative process. One commented, “Just about every vaccine mandate that we have lately has been the result, at least partially, of the drug industry’s efforts.”
The intensity of Merck’s lobbying efforts varied across states
In addition to direct-to-physician marketing, Merck mobilized medical professional organizations and other interest groups.16 Most respondents from medical and public health organizations described this outreach as fairly routine, although one indicated that the pressure was considerable: “At one point, the CDC rep for the state was being bombarded by pharmaceutical reps, so she asked if she could form an advisory committee around her.” Merck also appears to have expanded its efforts to support interest groups financially. One organization that had long worked in the area of cancer prevention reported that both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of a competing HPV vaccine, came forward with unrestricted donations for the first time after Gardasil was introduced.
Edited by Thoth101, 16 March 2020 - 03:46 AM.