Clear as mud – Today Show segment on Gardasil

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This is the transcript of an actual exchange on the NBC Today Show among anchor Ann Curry, medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman and ob-gyn guest Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz. I like the term cacophony. I think this is the definition of cacophony.


(Nancy Snyderman) “There have been 37 or 38 deaths. And the FDA has looked very, very carefully at these. There has been no proof of the vaccine causing a young woman to die. And sometimes deaths were reported several days later. But it’s important to remember, you can have fish for dinner and get sick three days later, and the question is, did the fish cause you to get sick? And what they’re saying this time is, no. There’s no proof that this vaccine, in fact, puts women’s lives at risk.

(Ann Curry:) Doctor?

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “But causality, absolutely, has not been proven.”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) At all.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “But it’s very, very hard to prove that. And you have to understand that the common thread with these 39 deaths have been recent either use or completion of the Gardasil vaccination. I am not saying it caused death, but women are going to have questions about this. And right out the gate when this vaccination came out, I was thrilled. I was excited and I recommended it. It’s not that I don’t recommend it. It’s that we need to support our patients and their mothers in asking questions.”

(Ann Curry:) Here’s one of the questions we’ve been getting. Emily is asking, `If you already have high risk HPV and you plan to be in a committed relationship with one partner, do you recommend still getting the vaccine?’ Nancy?

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Well, I think it depends how old she is. But you know, even if you have HPV, it may not be these strains that are covered in the vaccine.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Right.”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) So I would check with my ob-gyn or pediatrician. Because a lot of doctors will say go ahead and vaccinate.

(Ann Curry:) Lauren in North Carolina asks, `I’m 24 and considering getting the vaccine. My concern is the vaccine has not been around long enough for its long-term side effects to be found and tested–and studied. Am I correct?’

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) No. I think you should go ahead and get it. I think three years for getting surveillance data is a good chunk of time.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “I think it’s a great chunk of time. But I do want to mention that, you know, we were for 30 years recommending that every woman at menopause or post-menopause use hormone replacement therapy, and you know, now…”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Now, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “And now we know that it causes…”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) You can’t end the segment comparing HRT to vaccines.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Well, but…”

(Ann Curry:) But she’s asking you…

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Because…

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “I do have to say, it’s a risk assessment.”

(Ann Curry:) …a question about what we know eventually.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “It’s a risk assessment.”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) It’s very…

(Ann Curry:) So let me ask you that.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) But it’s very…

(Ann Curry:) That’s a very important question.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) …it’s very different. Because then we are comparing apples and oranges. I think we have to be very careful.

(Ann Curry:) Well, no, no, no. Let’s not compare.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Let’s talk the vaccine…

(Ann Curry:) But let’s just ask this, is it possible…

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Vaccine safety is something very different.

(Ann Curry:) But are we going to find out something later? That’s what people are afraid of.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “And I think we just need to address that concern.”

(Ann Curry:) Let her answer the question.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) And I get that. And that’s why we do something called post market surveillance where we get this data and we keep watching it. You know, what we’re really talking about is a cancer vaccine, not something to take away wrinkles and hot flashes.

(Ann Curry:) Yes.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) Yes.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) So I just want to make sure that we stay on message of…

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Yeah, but Nancy, we also pushed it for heart disease. I mean, we did push it for heart disease. I was taught in my training…”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) I must admit, I’ve never done that, so…

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Well, that’s not the point. The point is what information is out there, and my feeling is this is an awesome teachable moment. I think it’s a great opportunity to talk.”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Well, I think it’s very important for mothers and daughters and sometimes daddies to sit down with doctor and say, `OK…

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Yes.”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) …let’s talk about this vaccine. Give me the truth as we have it.’ And I think we do have good truth on this and see it as an anti-cancer vaccine and be smart about it. I’m all for patients being informed, you know that.

(Ann Curry:) The two of you have done such a great job in giving us all the different sides that people are asking. And really, I think that’s what we have to do is factor all of that in.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) And protect our girls.

(Ann Curry:) And by the way, cervical cancer is a very dangerous cancer.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) That’s right.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Absolutely.”

(Ann Curry:) We need to weigh that in as well.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “Which is mostly a problem in developing nations. And I would love–I mean, the vast majority of diagnoses and deaths occur in developing nations.”

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) But that does not negate the issue in the United States.

(Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz:) “That risk assessment’s different there.”

(Ann Curry:) We are not…

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) It does not negate the problem in the United States.

(Ann Curry:) …done with this topic, but we have to go because we’ve run out of time. Obviously, we should continue this conversation because it’s not done.

(Dr. Nancy Snyderman:) Yeah.

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Comments

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Nina Kenney

August 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

The Today Show segment infuriated me and as I wrote to them in an email, it reminded me why I switched to Good Morning America. Not even Gardasil’s product and prescribing information is as definitive about the anti-cancer aspect of the vaccine as Dr. Nancy was on the segment. Back to school prep is in full swing and doctor appointments and vaccinations are part of the drill. At a time when people could really use basic, unbiased information, the Today Show didn’t provide.

Leslie Botha

August 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

This is the most ridiculous and uninformed discussion on a topic that I have ever seen. And on national TV.
BTW if a woman has HPV – the vaccine is useless and may increase incidences of cervical cancer by 46%. This out of FDA documents. The documents did not mention the type strains -only if the woman has HPV. BTW there is a significant percentage of women that get HPV through birth (mother daughter transmission) and if a young woman is not tested for HPV prior to innoculation her chances of getting cervical cancer is very high.
And to bring HRT into this discussion is insane – other than to mention that treating natural functions of women’s bodies as a disease is inane. HPV is a virus and that passes through most women’s bodies in two years. The vaccine is risky and has caused numerous cases of neurological damage. The doctors are wrong in stating that there is not a relationship. We are beginning to see the relationship between brain damage and all vaccines.

Diane Miller

August 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm

The discussion on the Today show about Gardasil seemed very biased and making it seem that people were not responsible if they chose not to get the vaccine, and it was not informative on the real issues of safety and there was no honoring of young women an their parent’s deep concerns about what to choose and the known side effects or lack of efficacy. Nothing was said about the vaccine content and risks either. Very unhelpful.

karen a haack

August 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

This show was an insult to Dr. Gilbert-Lenz, she could not get a word in. I will never watch CNBC again. Your opinions are biased to your advertisers. Look into the adverse reactions to Gardasil before you praise its glory. My daughter has suffered terribly since being vaccinated with gardasil. There are thousands others. Now is your chance to be real reporters and not just mouth pieces for Big Pharma.

Gloria

August 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I love the title for this re-cap of the show, that I missed.
But, it is evident that
from the 15,000 complaints on VAERs- and THAT is a small percentage of the people who actually understood that their symptoms came from Gardasil, because doctors are denying the relationship,
and the 70+ deaths related – most definitely- to Gardasil
that
Gardasil is not ready for the public and should be investigated further in the lab through extensive research.
So many people are falling ill and losing precious learning years in school and their lives have been devastated by this vaccine- even if some girls are not affected, right now, who knows what side effects they may display later?? Will they be affected in later years??
In my sincere opinion- where there is smoke, there is fire and this vaccine is a hot one. IF those who were not affected would support those who were and got this vaccine out of circulation then the “common good” would prevail.
Today, as it stands with the vaccine out in the public available to anyone to take it and fall into the numbers of deaths or severely ill for years to come is NOT a good idea.
MERCK has been sued by leagues of states for VIOXX, and for Vytorin and Zetia. They have gotten billions of dollars for heart attacks caused by these drugs and other side effects. Here Gardasil has created DEATHS and only because THEY(MERCK) claim there is no causality between the girls and the vaccines? they are not responsible? PLEASE!
States need to get a Gardasil Settlement Program and gather these injured families and those who are grieving their daughter’s deaths and MUST SUE MERCK once again-
THOSE who did not get affected – out of gratitude that they have their daughters beside them today- should support those families with all of their might – for IT VERY WELL COULD HAVE BEEN THEM!
Get this trash and MERCK out of business- they have NO CLUE what they are doing and it is apparent to us all.

jenna bear

August 11, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I’d put money on the fact that if someone does a little diggng Snyderman has a financial interest in Merck. Her absolute endorsement and disregard for thousands of reports of adverse effects is an outrage. She is not for informed patients, only vaccinated patients. I and many other have written the Today Show sharing stories of sick girls across the country and begging for that story to be told. When are they going to step up and provide some balance to Snyderman’s rant? She is an insult to the intelligence of viewers and the other doctor featured.

Denise Melton

August 12, 2009 at 11:14 am

I watched the Today show and could not believe what I was hearing. So many half truths and nothing being said about the adverse side effects that so many of our young women and girls are experiencing since receiving this vaccine that is to wipe out cervical cancer.
Dr. Nancy Snyderman just rambled on about nothing while monopolizing the interview keeping Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz from making any one point she was trying to bring out. Before Dr. Snyderman is on national TV, she should get her facts straight and at least try to give some coherency in what she is trying to say.
I do hope that Ann Curry will have another segment on the Today Show concerning gardasil. This time have someone that is informed on the subject and will bring out the truth. Gardasil is not ready to be given to our future generation as Merck is marketing a product that is still in the experimental stage until September 2009. Too much is still not known about this vaccine which is said to prevent the HPV virus which causes cervical cancer.
In the United States cervical cancer is on the decline as Dr Gilberg- Lenz was trying to point out. With Pap tests being done on a regular basis and with new technology we are on the way to lowering significantly the numbers of cervical cancer cases. What will gardasil do? We have yet to find out. I no longer have my granddaughter. Gardasil took her from us two years ago. We know not how many others have lost a loved one because of gardasil and the numbers keep going up. The CDC and FDA tell us there is no causal finding. But we the families know the truth. The public should be made aware that there are deaths and adverse reactions that could change your life forever.