Gardasil (qHPV) was licensed in 2006 as a vaccine against four types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and marketed as, “The first vaccine targeted to prevent cancer.” From its inception it has been one of the more controversial vaccines. Some religious groups feared that the reduced threat of a sexually transmitted disease would lead to increased sexual promiscuity. Other groups were concerned about its safety. Some have questioned whether its high financial cost would make it a cost-effective intervention, while others have questioned the marketing tactics of its manufacturer Merck.
Most of these concerns bear consideration (though I have no time for those who advocate using the threat of disease and death to force conformation to their religious beliefs), and were in large part addressed by David Gorski in a SBM article last year. If you’ve not read his post, I strongly suggest you do so. Now that a large post-licensure study on qHPV has been published, it seems a good time to revisit the issue of greatest concern to me as a pediatrician and to most parents, namely qHPV’s safety and efficacy profile.