The Problem When Government’s an Economic Player


This should be an uncontroversial story offering the latest in medical thinking on a vaccine:

Since the HPV vaccine went on sale a decade ago, three doses have been needed. The panel decided Wednesday that two doses are enough.  

“It will be simpler now for parents to get their kids the HPV vaccine series, and protect their kids from HPV cancers,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As readers of the Current know, Rhode Island responded (arguably) more strongly than any state in the country to the nationwide push to mandate that all students receive this vaccine — which is produced by a single company — as a condition of attending school.  That nationwide push makes one think it awfully convenient that the government would recommend 50% more shots than it now says is necessary.

On the other hand, with ObamaCare, government is increasingly (and disastrously) involved in handling payments for health care, and excess vaccines may not make the cut as it balances its desire to make people pay for other people’s services with the voting-and-campaign-donating payers’ willingness to sit idly by as their wallets are raided.  With premiums continuing to rise, and the government positioned to take the blame, spending isn’t all fun and games.

Obviously, these two dynamics are not mutually exclusive.  The government may have loved the idea of prodding consumers toward excessive utilization of a monopoly drug while it wasn’t so directly visible in the funding stream, but is now reevaluating the corporate cronyism in light of its own accountability.

So if we take away the government’s incentive to meddle, what would be the recommended dosage of this vaccine?  Unfortunately, the question points to the most profound reason to resist society-by-government.  Who knows?  The same entity we’re supposed to trust to give us an analysis of the data is in bed with those who profit from higher recommendations and on the hook if the prices get too high.

Somewhere in this great muddle of health care policy, there’s the intention that government agencies could be objective voices coming to conclusions on the basis of medical science and leaving the market to work out the consequences and individuals to make decisions about resulting priorities.  Trust in that intention has now reached the point of naiveté, and we’ll all be poorer and less healthy for it as long as we allow it to continue.

  • Debbie Z O’Leary

    Rhode Island received a large chunk of change from the CDC to push the Gardasil vaccine. Now, from what I gathered listening to the ACIP meeting at CDC yesterday, the two-dose recommendation applies only to those who have received the vaccine before the age of 15. Anyone receiving the Gardasil 9 after age 15 are to be given three doses. I believe this change was made due to parental resistance to this vaccine for 9-12 year olds and it was thought to be more appealing to require only two doses. Their thinking is this will encourage getting it early to avoid the third shot.
    While it is quite clear that Pharma has a huge influence in the CDC, the CDC/HHS/NIH holds patents for vaccines as well. The only way to deal with this conflict of interest is to repeal the 1986 Vaccine Injury Act which gives vaccine manufacturers and doctors protection from liability due to vaccine injury, Request Congress to hold hearings and Subpoena Dr. William Thompson, the CDC whistle blower in the 2004 MMR study, and give whistle blower status to the SPIDER group of senior research scientists who made a recent ethics complaint to the CDC. There is also a new proposal circulating for a Medical Freedom and Liberty Amendment #28 to the U.S. Constitution. Go to to read the proposed amendment.