I got lobbied on this issue. I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady who had stage 4 cervical cancer.
The use of Gardasil was approved in June 2006 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Eight months later, Governor Rick Perry required Texas girls to be vaccinated with Gardasil, which can prevent some types of HPV infections that may cause cervical cancer. Although Perry’s order was announced in 2007, it has become a big issue during this presidential campaign, especially among social conservative republicans, who accuse him of being controlled by external interests. Particularly, the company that produces Gardasil is Merck & Co., one of the most important pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Rick Perry has raised $17,168,589 for this presidential campaign – only beated by Obama and Romney – and $509,049 come from the Health sector. One of Perry’s top donors is Texas Oncology, the nation’s largest network of doctors dedicated exclusively to cancer research. Texas Oncology has promoted the use of Gardasil. However, any clear connection between Merck and Texas Oncology could be found.
Merck & Co. is supporting both Democrats and Republicans during the present campaign. In total, the pharmaceutical company has invested $295,150. In the previous campaign, when Gardasil was approved, Merck injected more money into Texas than into any other state. Even so, the donation given to Rick Perry ($6,000) does not seem important enough to have an influence on federal policies. Merck & Co.’s annual $50,000 contribution to the Republican Governors Association does not seem a conclusive pressing reason either – since the money does not go directly to Perry’s budget – although it may have an influence on Republican Governors’ policies.
The massive use of Gardasil in Texas (and nowadays also in other states) is undoubtedly bringing great profits to Merck & Co., but it does not mean that Perry got lobbied on the issue. Similarly, although there is no evidence of Perry’s political sale, this does not mean that Merck’s lobbying efforts had no repercussions at all. Further research should be done on this issue to clarify the possible underlying reason of Perry’s decision.