Studies: Merck vaccine 'Gardasil' safe

August 18, 2009 2:20:56 PM PDT
Two new studies by federal and academic researchers find low rates of side effects with cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil but dubious promotion tactics by maker Merck & Co. The vaccine blocks four types of the virus that causes cervical cancer. Reports to the federal government show it mainly caused mild side effects in adolescent girls such as fainting, dizziness and nausea.

More-serious problems after girls got the vaccine had very low rates. There were one or two cases per million girls of death, severe allergic reaction, dangerous blood clots or nerve injury that can cause paralysis.

But two Columbia University researchers say Merck wrongly got medical groups to help promote the vaccine through speakers who didn't balance Gardasil's risks and benefits.

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