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Merck To Halt Lobbying For Vaccine

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the get-that-needle-away-from-me dept.

Biotech 544

theodp writes "Reacting to a furor from some parents, advocacy groups, and public health experts, Merck said yesterday that it would stop lobbying state legislatures to require the use of its new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, which acts against strains of the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus. The $400, 3-shot regimen was approved by the FDA in June. Later that month, a federal advisory panel recommended that females 11-26 years old be vaccinated. The governor of Texas has already signed an executive order making its use mandatory for schoolgirls."

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544 comments

A little perspective first (5, Interesting)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139780)

To put it in perspective Rick Perry had $24 million in contributions the same year Merck gave him $6,000. [kaisernetwork.org] If you really think he was motivated by such a small donation you haven't seen what it takes to get things done in government.

Re:A little perspective first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139998)

Then it must have been ass those unreported "contributions" to his kids' college savings plans.

This is the home state of Tom Delay were talking about.

Re:A little perspective first (2, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140154)

I'm no big fan of Merck the company, but this is one case where I'm totally behind them. This is an incredibly effective vaccine. As far as they can tell, it might be 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer, and has many other good effects on health. By any accounting, the costs of vaccination far outweighs the cost of treatment, not to mention the cost in quality of life. Cancer sucks, and HPV even when it doesn't lead to cancer is a bad thing. It has a lot to do with various genital warts and contributes to that fishy smell that some women get. HPV also affects men, who generally catch it from women. So vaccinating girls would have giant benefits for men as well, and actually, I think we should vaccinate men as well!

This might be the first time, in a battle of a giant pharmacutical company versus a grassroots opposition effert, that I am 100% on the side of the pharmacutical. And not because I'm under the impression that they are saints. It's just that by any accounting, their vaccine would make the world far better!

What do they think? (5, Insightful)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139814)

Seriously, what goes through the minds of these people? That the risk of getting HPV and cervical cancer is currently stopping teenage girls from having sex? How stupidly selfish do you have to be to not want more women to be vaccinated against HPV?

Re:What do they think? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139860)

Weird, usually religious wingnuts are fear mongering ("think of the evil rapists out there"), but they don't like to think about that stuff when it comes to vaccinating their kids.

Not to mention that even if their little girl behaves just like jesus wants it to (tm), that still doesn't mean her partner has not have had sex before marriage, isn't cheating on her later or whatever.

Plus, it is possible to contract HPV outside of sexual contact...

I despise these idiots.

Re:What do they think? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139964)

"I despise these idiots."

Umm, go fuck yourself? Let me guess -- you *don't* have a 7 year old daughter, do you? I do, and in just two years, under the law proposed in my state, she would be required to get the vaccination in order to attend public school. Because of drug company lobbying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought you leftist fucks hated "Big Pharmaceutical"? What happened to that?

Re:What do they think? (4, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140130)

News flash: Not everyone who disagrees with you is a leftist moonbat.

Re:What do they think? (0, Troll)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139882)

To somebody who believes pre-marital sex is wrong, it's like giving your kid a bullet proof vest for his birthday and saying "you know I don't want you to mug people, but if you do mug people, please wear it."

Re:What do they think? (1)

The Anarchist Avenge (1004563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139908)

Posting here because I can't reply to the story. More importantly, parents in Texas are required to have their daughters receive this vaccine? Or do I misunderstand the power of an executive order? This is something that should be up to the parents or their daughters once they reach adulthood.

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139938)

No it shouldn't.

Just like it's not optional for your kid to receive education, getting a vaccine that may save her life (even in the unlikely case that she gets raped) should not be optional, especially if you don't have to pay for it.

The bullet proof vest analogy someone else made makes no sense ... because that vest would surely be nice if someone else muggs you...

Re:What do they think? (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139918)

Continuing that bizarre analogy, do you think the lack of a bulletproof vest is preventing anyone from mugging someone?

Re:What do they think? (4, Insightful)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140044)

Except it goes beyond pre-marital sex. Your daughter may be an angel and never do anything with anyone but her husband after she's married. But that doesn't mean her husband hasn't fucked around before marriage, cheated on her, or done some other thing that resulted in him becoming infected with HPV. He gets HPV, shows no symptoms, and then infects your daughter. She could've been protected against it, but no, you HAD to be "right".

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140112)

Then she can get the vaccine voluntarily when she turns 18.

Re:What do they think? (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140124)

How about we do it before she'd had the opportunity to be exposed to it, and then it's not an issue on whether or not anything happens? I'm for the same thing for boys too, as soon as it's approved for them.

Re:What do they think? (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140200)

Sure, except I never heard of a biological imperative for teenagers to go and mug people's brains out.

BTW (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139884)

I have to plug the Yellow Umbrella Tour [yellowumbrellatour.com] for promoting awareness of these issues. Great people, great music: Kaki King, Duncan Sheik, David Poe, Sarah Bettens, Ben Folds, etc. There should be another this summer/fall.

Re:BTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140066)

There should be another this summer/fall.
Hopefully they'll do one with bands that don't suck.

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139886)

you know what... it isnt very often that big corporations will find a way to force you to do something thats good for you. i will not have a drug forced onto me. i dont care what it does.

texas is big on this, too. back in the day bush somehow was able to attach some forced drugging bill to his no child left behind act, what actually ended up happening was scarier than sci-fi. you remember when you were a kid at school and you would have a random hearing and vision screening? well, thanks to bush they added a whole lot more to that program. a state appointed psych now does an interview with the schoolkids, and based on that 15 minute interview the child is perscribed drugs--if the parent tries to refuse the children are taken by the state and the parents are hauled off to jail. this has happened.

Re:What do they think? (5, Insightful)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139940)

Yes... but...

Do we really know for sure that the vaccine is safe? Yes, they've tested it. But there have been medicines before that have been tested and found "safe", only to be pulled from the market after their release.

At this early stage I think, and this is just my $0.02, that it should be readily available, and that the public should be educated about the benefits and risks, so that they can make up their own minds. After there is a proven track record, then consider making it mandatory.

Can you imagine the social impact if the drug were required for all school age girls, then a few years later they find out that there is a devastating long term effect that hadn't been discovered, or worse, had been discovered but was suppressed in the name of profit?

I think we should tread lightly when we consider forcing the public to take a newly released drug.

Re:What do they think? (2, Insightful)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140086)

See, that's a reasonable point. That's what should be reported and considered, not the "moral" objections of a batshit-crazy minority.

But the FDA generally does a good job of erring on the side of caution, to the point where other crazy people will accuse them of causing deaths by not approving a treatment faster. And given the prevalence of HPV (see the well-cited Wikipedia article, or any other reliable source) and its obvious dangers, vaccination makes sense as public health policy.

Rationality expired a while ago. (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140262)

It's interesting that this perfectly reasonable objection seems to only be used as a rationalization for other, borderline-bizarre, "moral" objections. I could almost get behind this one, but most of the people questioning the safety of the drug really aren't interested in its safety per se, and wouldn't ever be satisfied by any amount of evidence as to its efficacy, because they're just using it as a sham argument.

I'm not saying you are, but as I've been following the progress of this issue, it's seemed to progress something like this:

1) Religious-right insists that anything which might make sex 'safer' is a tool of Satan, and has no purpose besides corrupting their little darlings.
2) Basically everyone else raises eyebrows, questions their sanity.
3) Religious-right folks have a powwow, try to think up rational justification for #1. Failing that, they find a totally different, seemingly rational justification for their position, but which has nothing to do with their actual motives.
4) Everyone else spends a whole lot of time and effort responding to the seemingly rational objection from #3, but are just wasting their time, because the real objection is not rational or practical. It's entirely religious (and somewhat Freudian).

So, in short, you have a good point, but it's going to be an uphill battle to get anyone to take it seriously.

Re:What do they think? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140354)

Except this thing has been through years of testing and is safe as any other vaccine, in fact, it's safer than a good many of them.

There is no legitimate medical opposition to this. The opposition is coming from the fucking imbeciles who thinks it's good to threaten children, even their own, with cancer to keep them from having sex.

I don't know why they're so indirect about it, though, it seems like a lot of work. Why not just inspect women once on their wedding day to see if they're virgins and kill them if they aren't? I can't believe no one's ever thought of that before. If they don't get married, we can just inspect them when they hit 30 or so.

This whole 'Let's try to make as many consequences to women who have sex' thing seems like a good idea in theory, but those filthy whores having sex outside of marriage get genital warts from this thing, which turns me off when I'm having sex with them. Let's keep them from getting HPV and the various STDs and whatnot that could affect us men, and stone them later for seducing innocent men, instead of trying to kill them with indiscriminate diseases.

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139946)

There's a huge difference between "wanting more women to be vaccinated" and "forcing every women to be vaccinated". For example brussels sprouts may be good for you, and you may want more people to be eating them, but a legislation forcing everyone to eat brussels sprouts is just insane.

Re:What do they think? (2, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140164)

What about this [wikipedia.org] ?

Although no vaccine offers 100% protection, the spread of disease from person to person is much higher in those who remain unvaccinated. Virologists have found that when a certain percentage of a population is vaccinated, the spread of the disease is effectively stopped. This critical percentage depends on the disease and the vaccine, but 90% is not uncommon.

Re:What do they think? (0, Troll)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139948)

Seriously, what goes through the minds of these people?

You are talking about people who tell a story about a man who actually intended to kill his son as a human sacrifice [wikipedia.org] because the voice in his head told him to. Then they hold up this story as a model for moral behavior.

Obviously STDs are God's punishment for (insert current religious hysteria) so we shouldn't try to thwart His will by vaccinating.

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140090)

Seriously, what goes through the minds of these people?

That a person's body is sovereign, and the government should not be using law to forcibly medicate people against their will.

Really, the only problem I see here is that cervical cancer usually strikes after reproductive age, meaning that natural selection won't favour the smart people who voluntarily accept the vaccine over the dumb religious people who prefer to bury their heads in the sand.

Re:What do they think? (1)

Thomas the Doubter (1016806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140096)

Perhaps I am missing something, but Human Papilloma Virus is not only (primarily?) an STD. It is often passed from mother to child during birthing. It can (really!) be acquired from toilet seats. Close to 50% of adults in the US have one or more forms of HPV. Sad but true.

It's not an "HPV vaccine"; it's targeted. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140302)

My understanding (and granted, I'm not a virologist) is that there are many strains of HPV, including many that have nothing to do with sex, or cervical cancer. Some are your basic skin infections / cold sores, others cause genital warts, etc. And there are sexually-transmitted strains that aren't linked to cancer.

The vaccine doesn't target all these strains, it goes after several specific ones that have been empirically linked to cervical cancer and abnormal pap smears / precancerous cellular growth.

So getting the Guardisil injections won't help stop you from picking up cold sores, or genital warts. It's targeted specifically at cervical cancer-causing strains of the virus.

Re:What do they think? (5, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140136)

How stupidly selfish do you have to be to not want more women to be vaccinated against HPV?
I believe you are misrepresenting the argument against mandatory vaccination.

I don't think ANY reasonable person is against vaccination -- just against MANDATORY vaccination.

You may want to look at this [medscape.com] .

Perhaps after more studies there'll be a more compelling reason, say after results of the phase II or phase III studies, but I can still see huge arguments against based on economic reasons. It's a hell of a lot cheaper to make paps available to under served women than it is to vaccinate every woman aged 11-26 -- then every 11 year old every year...

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140230)

I don't think ANY reasonable person is against vaccination -- just against MANDATORY vaccination.

Well, where I live, children are required to be vaccinated for a number of things (measles, mumps, rubella, etc). Public schools verify the vaccination records, and they can suspend students who are not up to date.

Re:What do they think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140356)

I know someone who lived a fairly normal life up until age 12, where she was vaccinated against rubella. She then was brain damaged and institutionalized. Nice!

Re:What do they think? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140280)

The commonly made argument against mandatory vaccination is that it supposedly undermines the abstinence education that some parents prefer, but I haven't heard of anything that suggests that behavior is altered because of a vaccine. From what I hear, the Hepatitis B vaccine hasn't increased risky behavior.

I have not heard of an economic reason before. I don't know what the costs of the alternative tests are, or of the treatments should treatment be found needed. I have heard that the current pap tests are very uncomfortable.

Re:What do they think? (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140352)

The problem with this is that once a girl (or boy) has been exposed to the virus the vaccine doesn't work. You have to administer the vaccine before they are exposed at all. And once vaccinated studies so far (on 8 1/2 year data) show they will not need any more shots.

Re:What do they think? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140336)

Then why not spend the money educating the general population instead of what looks like bribing a government which then forces its decision on everyone? I want to make my own decisions about my and my families healthcare because I think I can do a better job than them. Even if this is a very sensible vaccine it should never be forced on someone.

Gimme a break (3, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139888)

These companies shouldn't even be allowed to contribute $1. As a matter of fact, government figures shouldn't be allowed to receive any money from any businesses. The sole reason that a business would contribute money to a politician is to get some favors. That is the bottom line. This story stinks and stinks real bad.

gasmonso http://religousfreaks.com/ [religousfreaks.com]

Re:Gimme a break (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140018)

Eh, there are really two things about this story that stink.

1. Cervical Cancer
      It's the second most prevalent cancer in women worldwide, and the 8th most common in the USA.

2. How expensive this vaccine is.
      $400 is a lot of money to most people.

What would be interesting to see is if it would be less expensive for insurance companies (or medicare/medicaid) to pay for all covered women without current HPV infections to have the vaccine or to treat cancer as it happens. I would imagine that it is cheaper to do the vaccine now than to treat the cancer later. If the vaccine were $100-$200 I think it would be a no brainer.

Re:Gimme a break (4, Insightful)

kaan (88626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140052)

Yeah, the whole story stinks quite bad.

I live in Austin, Texas, and basically people have been going apeshit for a week or two. Without any law, concerned parents already have the means to give this shot to their daughters (just ask your doctor). So why make it a legal issue?

This has been in the local news quite a bit recently, and I recall hearing various bits on the radio, such as: Rick Perry's brother works for Merck, Perry had large sums of money transferred into his account by Merck within days of announcing this law, and Perry usually doesn't take a stand for anything at all so it's extremely odd that he's pushing something as wide-sweeping as requiring all girls 11+ years old to get a shot. In the press, Perry keeps saying things like, "I want to do whatever I can to protect life", etc.

Re:Gimme a break (1)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140272)

This story freaks the hell out of me. I understand that there are necessary vaccines like polio and the like, but this appears to be solely driven by big business for the sole purpose of profiting. This is a step in the wrong direction to say the least and I hope you guys really drive that point home in Texas to send a message that we won't stand for this shit.

gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Okay, here is your break (4, Insightful)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140340)

By mandating in Texas it allows low-income families to get the vaccine without insurance. And by mandating the vaccine it forces insurance companies to pay for it so your out of pocket cost is now lower.

And if someone doesn't want to get vaccinated they can opt out.

p.s. The large sum of money was $6,000 out of the $24 "million" of his campaign contributions. And there is bills in 20 other states which are going to require girls to get the vaccine. And if his brother worked for Merck why isn't is printed in all the news articles? That would be great at selling more papers.

Re:Gimme a break (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140364)

The sole reason that a business would contribute money to a politician is to get some favors.

I'm afraid that's a bit absurd. Businesses act in their own interests, certainly. But supporting a candidate whose views coincide with your interests hardly equates to bribery. There is a huge difference between paying someone to change his mind about wildlife reserves, and, between two candidates, supporting the campaign of the candidate whose view on wildlife reserves is better suited to your own.

Anyway, what does $6k translate into, a few radio ads? If that's all it takes to buy a state mandate for my billion dollar idea, I think it's time to cash in my savings and endorse some politicians.

That's great news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139892)

The last thing this country needs is a bunch of whore teenagers fucking with no fear for the consequences. This is a decision the parents need to make and it is NOT an opt-out decision. Abstinence is the only way to save both your soul and your life. The reckless among this group will of course disagree, but they haven't found salvation yet. This is a parent's decision -- leave it out of the legislature.

Re:That's great news (1)

DirtMcGirt (64827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140024)

Dude, practice a little more before you troll again. Do you really expect me to believe that you're both a jesus freak and you use words like "fucking"?

Re:That's great news (4, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140186)

The last thing this country needs is a bunch of whore teenagers fucking with no fear for the consequences.

... because HPV vaccination prevents AIDS and pregnancy.

Re:That's great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140270)

Actually, what this country really needs is a bunch of whole teenagers fucking -- WITHOUT consequences.

Now wouldn't that get your puritanical knickers all tied up in a knot?

Christian activists (1, Insightful)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139912)

I spend the latter half of my teen years living at a Christian Retreat center. From those years I've come to the conclusion that Christian's can tend to overreact. No matter how much family values you try to teach your children, the peer pressure will be there. If everyone one around these children is having sex with their boyfriends, there will be pressure put on them from their boyfriends to have sex. And if their parents ask them, most likely they'll just tell their parents their not having sex. I found it ludicrous to not want a vaccination because "it promotes having premarital sex". C'mon now. If you're gonna be against mandatory vaccinations make it because side effects or process that it is given or something logical and possibly detrimental.

Re:Christian activists (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140006)

I spend the latter half of my teen years living at a Christian Retreat center. From those years I've come to the conclusion that Christian's can tend to overreact.
Apocalypse is not overreacting, its just Gods way of letting you know you are not part of the food chain any more.

Re:Christian activists (0)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140038)

I found it ludicrous to not want a vaccination because "it promotes having premarital sex".

Congratulations: you've discovered the wrong-headed thinking done by sufficient Christians to keep recreational drugs and prositution illegal in the USA, not to mention condeming condom use. You can't really blame them, however, since this wrong-headed thinking starts at the top with the Pope and has lasted for centuries. (It wasn't until last year that Pope Benedict finally said it's OK to use condoms to help stem the spread of AIDS in Africa.)

Re:Christian activists (1, Troll)

Zaknafein500 (303608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140064)

To those who hold those views, rational thought isn't precisely something they find intuitive.

Re:Christian activists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140080)

Do not legislate morality to my children, especially since you are obviously agnostic/atheist.

This is an important issue to Christian families and we don't need nor want your rationalization and attempts to minimize and trivialize what is an important issue to Christian families like my own. What you endorse for your own daughter is your own choice (though we believe you will answer to Him for those choices). We don't force it down your throat.

Naming (1, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139924)

It's not a cervical cancer vaccine. It's an HPV vaccine. Notably, it protects men from contracting and spreading HPV -- so calling it a cancer vaccine is more than passively dishonest, it's actively evil if it fools men into thinking that the vaccine is just for women.

I'm all for vaccinating everyone with this. But the campaign to fool the public by calling it a cervical cancer vaccine deserved to fail. And shame on all the newspapers and news organizations that went along with it. (I'm talking about you, New York Times.)

Actually (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139974)

It's only approved for women. There's not even a test for HPV for men.

Re:Actually (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140010)

Come on, how many sexually discriminating vaccines can you name off the top of your head? The fact is that there are a hell of a lot of gay men out there with anal cancer from HPV, and a number of straight men without cancer, but who are spreading HPV right and left that would almost certainly benefit from the vaccine. The FDA's lack of approval is silly. And Merck has studies in men going right now which will soon remedy that.

Shrug ... not really surprising. (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140144)

The FDA's lack of approval is silly. And Merck has studies in men going right now which will soon remedy that.

I think you just answered your own question, or at least responded to your own argument, there.

There's probably no FDA approval for men, because Merck didn't submit any data for men, which they didn't do, because they didn't do studies on men. They didn't do studies on men, because it wasn't as cost-effective, because there are more straight women in the world than there are gay men.

I don't think there's any active anti-homosexual agenda there, it's just economics. Straight or otherwise 'majority' people are going to get drugs for themselves approved first, because if you're a drug company, it's most profitable to get your drug out to the biggest market first. Once you've got the big market served, then it makes sense to go after the niches. It sounds like that's exactly what Merck is doing.

The vaccine is just for women. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139978)

Sorry. It isn't licensed for men, and isn't particularly effective on them. The skin of the penis doesn't have the protective immune mucus that the interior of the vagina does. It does help prevent anal warts if you're gay.

Re:Naming (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139980)

From what I understand, they tested it on women first to determine its effectiveness at preventing infectiton by the HPV strains that cause 80% of all cases of cervical cancer. It's being tested in men, but, I don't think they've completed those trials yet. But, since it's primarily to prevent HPV infection to prevent the majority of cases of cervical cancer, it's not entirely dishonest to say it's a cervical cancer vaccine. That's my opinion, any way.

Re:Naming (2, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140048)

Your numbers are off... about 70% of cancer can be traced back to HPV... generally to an exposure that occurred 10 years prior to the cancer dx -- or longer. It can also be easily IDd with paps (preferably liquid based) -- and even considering their error rate, when done annually or bi-annually, it's quite effective.

And a hell of a lot cheaper than $400 x 2 million woman/children every year a mandatory vaccination would call for.

Further, of the HPV strains which are linked to cancer (there's about a dozen or so), the two vaccines only block 2 and 3 respective.

Re:Naming (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140106)

I'm not a doctor, pharmacist, scientist, chemist, whatever. But, from all the information I've seen about this over the past 6 months or so, they've said 80%. Even so, those strains of HPV are responsible for a large number of cervical cancer cases. Once you've been infected with HPV, that's it. Your body may clear the infection at some point, or it may not. You also may transmit it to other people. While a pap smear can detect the abnormal cells, and can lead to a cancer diagnosis and treatment ... they can't cure HPV once you've contracted it, nor can they prevent it from developing into cancer. It makes more sense to me to vaccinate people against the virus before they've been exposed, and continue vaccinations as needed (since I think they only know that it'll last at least 5 years, maybe more...). $800 million/year is NOTHING compared to what we spend on other, not NEARLY as important things.

Re:Naming (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140216)

HPV infection does not automatically lead to cancer. I'm talking about the stains that have been linked to future cancer. You make it sound like if a woman gets HPV... thats it. She WILL get cancer. If that were the case, there would be a HELL of a lot more cancer cases every year.

from cancer.gov:

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine that is highly effective in preventing infection with types 16 and 18, two "high-risk" HPVs that cause most (70 percent) cervical cancers, and types 6 and 11, which cause most (90 percent) genital warts (4).


and

Having many sexual partners is a risk factor for HPV infection. Although most HPV infections go away on their own without causing any type of abnormality, infection with high-risk HPV types increases the chance that mild abnormalities will progress to more severe abnormalities or cervical cancer. Still, of the women who do develop abnormal cell changes with high-risk types of HPV, only a small percentage would develop cervical cancer if the abnormal cells were not removed. Studies suggest that whether a woman develops cervical cancer depends on a variety of factors acting together with high-risk HPVs. The factors that may increase the risk of cervical cancer in women with HPV infection include smoking and having many children (3).


We're talking about a HUGE expense ($400 a pop) x 100 million woman initially (that fit in to the age group in the US) -- then about $400 a pop x 2 million a year for all 11 year old girls. Compare that to the cost of making a $10-$20 pap available to the underserved and high-risk woman who would benefit from it.

Re:Naming (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140252)

I know HPV infection does not automatically lead to cancer. But, it's guaranteed that if you don't have HPV, you won't get cancer caused by HPV. Is it a huge expense? I don't think so, but that's just going to have to be a matter of opinion. But when we're spending billions of dollars a month on a joke of a war, I think several hundred million a year to prevent 70% of cases of cervical cancer is probably a better investment.

Re:Naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140276)

We're talking about a HUGE expense ($400 a pop) x 100 million woman ... making a $10-$20 pap available to the underserved and high-risk woman who would benefit from it.

Wow, I can't believe that math, it looks so compelling!

No really, I can't believe it. Now, tell me how much will be spent dealing with the positive pap smears?

Re:Naming (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140196)

Pap smears are an effective diagnostic tool, a way to tell if a woman is already infected with HPV and has precancerous cells, but it's not a preventative tool that does anything about the infection in the first place. It's a related issue, but neither one is a replacement for the other.

There's a difference between preventative tools and diagnostic tools; given the choice between something that actually prevents cervical cancer, and a system that will probably catch it so that it can be treated surgically, I think most patients are going to prefer the former. (And I also suspect that when you add in all factors, it has lower social and economic costs over time.)

I also doubt that the vaccine is going to be $400 forever; just like any other products, drugs start off expensive and come down in price over time (and start to approach the cost of production+distribution once they go off patent). Right now they're targeting the section of the market that's willing to pay $400 for the treatment; once that's been saturated, the price will go down.

Re:Naming (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140332)

Pap smears are an effective diagnostic tool, a way to tell if a woman is already infected with HPV and has precancerous cells, but it's not a preventative tool that does anything about the infection in the first place. It's a related issue, but neither one is a replacement for the other
It is true that the pap is not a preventative but diagnostic tool. Paps will continue to be needed as the HPV vaccines only work for 3 or 4 HPV types (and theres like 20 which are linked to cancer).

We're talking about fairly small number of cases a year (and dropping by 4% every year consistantly WITHOUT the vaccine) compared to the entire body of women who've been exposed to HPV. The "surgical treatment", when caught early consists of a colposcopy is most cases - like the removal of a mole. It's a SIMPLE outpatient procedure. Not "fun", but certainly not something to get in a fret over.

I also completely disagree with you about it having a "lower social and economic cost" over time. The vaccine is JUST out of phase I studies. Just BEGINNING phase II. To make such predictions at this point is an excercise in obtuse guessing.

Most woman don't need a pap every year. Most can do with a pap every 2-4 years. At $10-$20 a pap, most woman would never generate enough revenue from PAPs to equal the cost of the vaccine.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the vaccine -- I'm against the request to make it MANDATORY. It's a HUGE expense right now without the benefit of further study.

Disclaimer: I've worked on a number of studies tracking HPV, CIN I, II & III as well as having written a number of custom queries for various LIS databases to pull data which will be part of the phase II studies (tracking vaccinated woman over time). I'm not an MD/PHD, but I work with them.

Re:Naming (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139986)

It's not a cervical cancer vaccine. It's an HPV vaccine.
While you are technically correct, HPV is apparantly responsible for around 90% of all cervical cancer [wikipedia.org] cases. HPV on its own is not all that much trouble. The real purpose of an HPV vaccine to to prevent cervical cancer, which can be deadly.

Re:Naming (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140042)

The real purpose of an HPV vaccine to to prevent cervical cancer, which can be deadly.
Unless you're gay and you contract HPV-caused anal cancer because nobody told you about the HPV vaccine that could have saved your ass, instead preferring to inaccurately call it a cervical cancer vaccine as a way to dishonestly pressure opponents who were smart enough to know better anyway.

Re:Naming (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140114)

The drug is not FDA approved for men. As you can read here [nytimes.com] , Merck is not legally allowed to advertise it as a treatment for anal cancer. When the studies are done I am sure they will. It's in their interest to have as many people taking it as possible, hence the controversy about the lobby effort.

Re:Naming (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140208)

Merck is not legally allowed to advertise it as a treatment for anal cancer.

Merck is not legally allowed to advertise it as a treatment for any cancer. It's a vaccine, not a treatment.

Re:Naming (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140242)

Quite right, thanks for the correction.

Not the government's responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139926)

The solution to this problem is simple: Keep your children under control.

Any good parent will be able to prevent his daughter from being exposed to HPV.

It is NOT the government's responsibility to protect sluts from themselves.

(And I say this as a staunch Libertarian and Atheist.)

Re:Not the government's responsibility (2, Informative)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139992)

However, with the price of the vaccine, if it's not made mandatory (and it's not even REALLY mandatory, since parents can still opt out of having their daughters vaccinated), the chance that everyone who wants it will be able to be vaccinated is not likely. Since it prevents the spread of a communicable disease that has the potential to cause a variety of cancers (namely cervical, though these particular strains do play a part in some other cancers), it's within the public's interest to have this vaccine available at a reasonable price for everyone.

Re:Not the government's responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140298)

So, if this vaccine is not mandatory, how much do you want to bet that in 10-20 years poor people are complaining about being victimized by a disease that rich people don't get?

Re:Not the government's responsibility (1)

meatflower (830472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140046)

The solution to this problem is simple: Keep your children under control.

Any good parent will be able to prevent his daughter from being exposed to HPV.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

That's fuckin hilarious. Almost as if you're saying "The solution to end all wars is simple, institute world peace!". To think that parents can stop their kids from having sex is absurd. Unless you homeschool your kid and keep them locked up in a closet 24/7, there are some times where children are *gasp* not under direct supervision. News Flash! Kids do things, especially those that their parents tell them not to do. Also, saying "any good parent" would prevent their child from being exposed to HPV is equally absurd. I can see it now...

Me: Hear about Jenny? She got raped and now has HPV.
You: If only she had better parents! Then this never would have happened and we all would have lived happily ever after.

(And I say this as someone who isn't a naive moron.)

Re:Not the government's responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140212)

So do you support mandatory birth control for all girls the same age as well? It would have the incredible benefit of stopping most unwanted pregnanciies since the animals that we are can't stop from having sex. If not, why not?

What other things can we force kids to do since they have no self control and their parents have no rights. We are, after all, no more capable of exercising choice than monkeys.

Why stop at this?

How about not letting them drive - since they are disproportionately the cause of automotive accidents and deaths?

The level of discourse on slashdot on anything but tech topics is ludicrous. I can predict with 100% certain the political slant of comments based on the topic.

What was once a great web site is now basically useless in a world of sites where adults visit. Unfortunately, my job causes me to visit here daily.... just had to let off some steam at the illogical thinking.

How can tech people think so illogically?

Re:Not the government's responsibility (1)

MysticOne (142751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140234)

It's "mandatory" the same as all other vaccinations. If you don't want your children to have them, you can opt out, sign a form, and it's all done.

As far as the other things go, I don't think birth control should be mandatory because it doesn't prevent diseases. They do place restrictions on children driving (learners permits, curfews, reduced point limit on licenses, only allowing people of certain ages in the car at the same time, etc.). I have no problem with that, and I don't know anyone who does aside from kids who feel it's too limiting.

Re:Not the government's responsibility (4, Informative)

Fwonkas (11539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140316)

More to the point, I'm not sure people realize just how easy it is to contract HPV. Not only that, but there really aren't any tests for males. It usually shows no symptoms, though I think that certain types result in genital warts.

Sex isn't even necessary to contract it. A large chunk of the adult population has it and doesn't know it. I could have it, for all I know. But it causes cervical cancer.

Wrong Info on Blog (5, Informative)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139972)

And the information on the 10 things you might know is wrong.

1. The blog states the vaccine only decreases the chance--that's wrong. If you have not been previously infected with HPV then there is a 100% effective rate.

2. In 2007 the incidence of cervical cancer went up.

3. Yep, it is the most expensive, however it is the ONLY vaccine which prevent cancer and DEATH. (And yeah it made $70 million, chump change for a company which made $22 billion in 2006).

4. Wrong. Gardasil is already a part of this program. Having a mandate will not change liability at all.

5. There is 5 year data now with another 3 1/2 year data prior to the launch of the drug; that's 8 1/2 years of data now.

6. This is true, however, in the current data there has been no wane in the immunity; and vaccines typically never need booster shots due to the way vaccines work.

7. Yes, neither was any other drug on the market.

8. Pure speculation. There has been no proof that aluminum is harmful. Gardasil was tested with Hepatitis B because it has the same aluminum compound and has been on the market for 19 years.

9. There are currently studies going on with boys and safety data is already available for boys in the label. Also, the EU and Australia are already using on boys.

10. It's ironic that the blog ends with making an uninformed decision when all the facts are wrong on the site.

Yeah, this seems like a shrill for Gardasil but I have personal knowledge of this drug and sometimes setting the facts straight on a drug which is saving lives need some truth out there among the free range blogs which aren't providing accurate information.

Re:Wrong Info on Blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140328)

For those like me who have no clue what WebHostingGuy is responding to, one of the links in the summary points to a blog which then links to another site which lists ten things [blogspot.com] you might not know about Gardasil.

  1. The vaccine only decreases your chances of getting cervical cancer, it doesn't eliminate the risk.
  2. Even without the vaccine, the number of cervical cancer cases is trending downward and has been for years.
  3. Gardasil is one of the most expensive vaccines ever
  4. Merck will not be liable if Gardasil turns out to be harmful some time in the future.
  5. There have been no long-term studies done on the effect of the vaccine after 5-10 or more years, and testing on young girls has been extremely limited.
  6. It is unknown how long the immunity provided by Gardasil actually lasts.
  7. The studies done on Gardasil were not set up to investigate whether the vaccine itself has the potential to cause cancer.
  8. Gardasil is one of many vaccines containing aluminum, and there is increasing evidence suggesting that aluminum-based vaccines can have harmful effects.
  9. Gardasil is only for women.
  10. The bottom line

As far as I can determine the facts on the site are correct. WebHostingGuy even admits as much with respect to 3, 6, and 7, yet when he gets to 10 he claims everything on the site is wrong.

For number 3, WebHostingGuy dismisses Merck's potential revenue comparing the current $70 million to the company's $22 billion. Keep in mind that if every sixth grade student in every school has to get the $360 vaccination, Merck stands to make an extra $1 billion per year until the patent expires. That's nearly 5% of their current revenue!

A civil rights issue (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18139976)

This is not just about morality, sex, and saving people from cancer.
It's also (mostly) about forcing people to receive drugs.
If they can force you to take drugs that might save you from cancer you might catch from sex you might have, where are the limits to what they can force you to take?

Opt out (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140040)

You know anyone can just opt out from receiving the vaccination right? It's in the executive order that you can opt out at any time. Just like all the other required vaccines...

We should always be pessimistic... (1, Insightful)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140000)

It's always easy to say that a new product or technology is going to improve our lives. There will always be studies stating that the "insert new thing here" is safe and will fix what ails us. Science and medicine are not perfect. New developments frequently come about which contradict previous scientific dogma. It is quite possible that some lasting damage will be done to these girls that did not show up earlier. I'm not saying that we should listen to the religious right. But we shouldn't use a vaccine on millions of girls just to spite them.

It would be much better to allow parents to opt in. A parent can make the decision for their child, not the government. The vaccination cost can be paid for by the state or federal government. When a girl becomes 18, she can then decide to be vaccinated at that point. With fewer girls being vaccinated, it mitigates the consequences of unintended side effects.

Re:We should always be pessimistic... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140022)

And you didn't have sex before 18? Right? Yes..... and right, you asked your parents for permission too... I see..

Now granted, we're on slashdot, so there is a good chance that you might be a sexless 30 year old virgin, but still, most of us probably did it a number of times before 18. In fact, I don't know a single person who hasn't.

BS

Good idea - bad implementation (2, Insightful)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140002)

I suspect the vaccine is a good idea (it's still pretty new and we've seen new drugs withdrawn), but the government has no business mandating it's use. States/schools require certain vaccines to prevent outbreaks of contagious illness in schools and this vaccine does not qualify under that criteria. This is "thinkofthechildren" nanny state BS.

That said, if I had a daughter in that age range I'd seriously consider getting her the vaccine because it has to be administered early to be effective. And I really don't think it needs to be discussed with the kids any more than a measles vaccine does - it's just another shot they'd be getting.

Re:Good idea - bad implementation (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140104)

Actually all states require Hepatisis B, which does not fall into the "outbreaks of contagious illness". Also, mandates force insurance companies to pay for vaccines where they might not be normally covered and mandates allow low-income families to be protected.

Re:Good idea - bad implementation (4, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140236)

I suspect the vaccine is a good idea (it's still pretty new and we've seen new drugs withdrawn), but the government has no business mandating it's use.

Why not? Choosing to remain unvaccinated hurts others. [wikipedia.org]

why does the government require this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140054)

First of all I have no "morality issue" with this vaccine. If I had a daughter, I'd give it to her in a heartbeat. I'd also teach her about abstinence (preferred) and condoms and how sex is way to spread certain diseases. No problem there.

But when the government requires it, and is heavily lobbied by a drug company, that kinda rubs me the wrong way. Shouldn't these decisions be left up to the parents and doctors?

Whatever the case, it doesn't keep me up at night. As long as the fundies don't OUTLAW vaccines like this, I'm cool.

Let me get this straight.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140060)

Merck produces a vaccine. Merck tells the Government that this is a patented drug that other companies should not be allowed to produce because they thought of it first. Furthermore, they demand that every single female should be forced to buy and use their product at whatever price they set.

Which brings me to my point: FUCK OFF MERCK.

You jackasses think that you should have the exclusive right to manufacture a product and force it on everyone via bribed government officials? That is sick,immoral, and anti-capitalistic.

Re:Let me get this straight.. (1)

ron raw (943129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140384)

Any drug mandated by government must be free to the druggee. not happy with this way of doing things. At least let it be by choice for a couple of years. Any one that wants it gets it. kids are told about it There is no right answer This is nasty I think I would wait a year or so if I thought I could and see what happened to the kids that took the shots

Guess the religious nuts got what they wanted... (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140140)

On the plus side of this, it sounds like an attempt for a pharmaceutical company to get a legislated kickback was thwarted. Imagine how much money Merck would charge for that vaccine once everyone was required to get it...

On the minus side, it really shows how far we've slipped into rule by religious nuts. I'm not one for religion, but I don't have a problem with those who are. Religion provides comfort for people who can't deal with the world as-is. The problem is when it starts intruding on public life. When common-sense decisions are struck down because a group of people think a behavior is morally wrong, hedonistic or evil, there's a problem.

Short sighted as usual (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140158)

Do you think for a minute that only "schoolgirls" get HPV? What about schoolboys? Schoolgirls would not contract a transmitted disease unless it is first transmitted. How about we give the vaccine to all the school boys instead, or in addition to, as the boys should share in some of the "responsibility" of the problem shouldn't they? Just because they don't contract the cancer from HPV does not mean they should not help the prevention of it. After all they do share at least 50% of the responsibility for the problem.

Boys are coming (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140254)

The vaccine got approved for girls first. There is already safety data for boys in the drug's label; the boys will be vaccinated as well as soon as it is approved.

Re:Short sighted as usual (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140258)

That's not the issue, so much as the fact that it's those schoolgirls that can ultimately contract cervical cancer from their HPV infections and die. So it's more important that they get it first.

Re:Short sighted as usual (1)

AArmadillo (660847) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140268)

It is simple cost vs. risk assessment. Girls are far more likely to die from an HPV infection than boys. Thus, vaccinating all girls maximizes risk mitigation : cost. There is also not yet any evidence that the vaccine is effective for boys, or that it would prevent the spread of HPV to potential sexual partners.

Re:Short sighted as usual (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140274)

they're working on it. clinical trials on males haven't been finished yet.

Re:Short sighted as usual (1)

dave1g (680091) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140348)

As has been stated over and over again it is not approved for boys yet.

I can tell you that if this were available to me I would get it. I wish to be protected from as many diseases and ailments as possible no matter what the cause.

Yes Let's do it !!! (0, Flamebait)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140204)

Yes ... lets do it! Lets vaccinate everybody...and then once its done, we will vaccinate them again, against the diseases that come forth from the previous vaccination (which of course wouldn't have happened otherwise). I mean the long-term effects. It is well known that any so-called cure of something like cancer or such a disease (or for that reason any unnatural medicine) has side-effects. Some small, some large. For example, radiation to cure cancer actually increases the probability of some other cancers, introduces problems in progenies (or the possibility thereof). Lets pollute the bodies of young people with medicines most of them may never need! Bravo!!

Sir, you are an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140322)

You'll probably never actually encounter whooping cough or polio either, but you were probably vaccinated against them. To say "vaccinations are bad because other diseases might arise" is about the most abjectly retarded thing I've ever heard.

From the makers of Vioxx... (0, Troll)

Hezqiyahu (695942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140248)

I do not trust these guys. These guys spend hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby lawmakers. It only covers 4 of the 127 strains of HPV and you need a booster every five years. At over $350 a shot, that's over $100 million a year in Texas alone. I wonder how much of that will find it's way back to Gov. Perry. This stinks to high heaven.

I wish I could have the government mandate that every /. reader purchase a minimum of 1 PC a year from me. What a sweet deal that would be!

Why only the women? (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140282)

So yea, only women get cervical cancer, but HPV sucks for both genders. It isn't just an amusement for men. Shouldn't we want to stop the disease wherever possible?

As it is now, a guy who wanted to get the shots would probably have trouble getting the protection for various social reasons (poorly educated clinic workers who think the treatment is gender specific etc). Heck, since it has been marketed as a "girl thing" a lot of guys probably wouldn't even think to ask.

It's great to stop the cancer, but stopping the STD is just as important.

Besides if you can inoculate all sexually active people with health insurance then you would reduce the exposure of those who don't (etc).

$400? Not bad. (3, Insightful)

Combuchan (123208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140310)

There are issues aside from Merck doing this and that--it's all the usual influence peddling which would be expected in the insipidly broken system that is US health care. Merck is not the target here. One target is the FDA that is utterly incompetent and immorally charged to make life or death decisions with approvals and expensive bureaucracies. Once the FDA required proof for efficacy (instead of just safety as they had been doing for 60 years prior) is probably the single most important milestone on the downward spiral.

Given the cost of drug development, I'm surprised it's only $400. Vaccines are a one-time profit for Merck until their patent runs out. Given the alternative costs of therapies (guaranteed revenue), there's a good chance Merck just might not be as evil as they are made to be. $400 doesn't get you much in the medical world these days--not even an hour with a specialist at my doctor's office. Again, this is symptomatic of a broken system where someone else always ends up paying the cost of medical treatment or you never knowing until the bill bites you. We should be so lucky that the established price is at the forefront of the discussion.

Besides, it works against a virus, a communicable disease that can be conceivably arrested and perhaps eradicated, for far less than the cost of the effective treatment for the cancer it causes. Treat it forever or squash it now. Shouldn't something this simple be prioritized? How is this different from everything else we get shots for if people who don't have health insurance can get it, and those that don't want it won't have it forced down their throat?

shocked and apalled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140330)

I live in deep south TX and when I heard this order had been passed I was (see subject line) shocked and apalled. The argument has been made before, required vaccines are generally reserved for highly contagious infectious diseases. In cases like measles, mumps, rubella, and the polio vaccine I'm sure almost all of us have had, having more than a vanishingly small percentage of school children not vaccinated can undermine the whole effort. The reason being that the say 10% that hasn't been vaccinated likely has had no exposure whatsoever to the virus or similar viruses, and what may have been serious but non life threatening a couple generations ago could then have a significantly higher case fatality rate. This is completely different. HPV is something most people posting here already have (insert "slashdotters can't get laid" joke here). 80% infection rate among adults in the US. Only thing I know that comes close is oral herpes simplex 1. The danger from HPV is relatively small when you put that number in perspective, a couple 100 million americans have it, and I don't see them dropping like flies. Furthermore, to make the HSV1 comparison, Herpes Encephilitis is often fatal... quite rare but dangerous. Similar numbers of americans are infected. If there were a vaccine for herpes 1 would you want to make it a requirement for entry into kindergarten? Look up the CDC recommendatiosn on some of these diseases some time... they are a lot less alarmist than the drug companies. Last I checked the CDC said something along the lines that HPV was more or less harmless, and so wide spread that you almost certainly have it, so don't worry, be happy, and don't even bother getting tested unless you have some specific cause for concern.

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18140338)

over a quality but I'd rather hear Project somewh3re 'doing something' Are you a NIGGER
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