Texas Governor Defends Vaccine Order
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of MSNBC/Associated Press
Posted: February 22nd, 2007
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday angrily defended his relationship with Merck & Co. and his executive order requiring that schoolgirls receive the drugmaker's vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Perry's chief of staff had met with key aides about the vaccine on Oct. 16, the same day Merck's political action committee donated $5,000 to the governor's campaign. In issuing the order, the governor made Texas the first state to require the vaccine Gardasil for all schoolgirls. But many lawmakers have complained about his bypassing the Legislature altogether. The executive order has inflamed conservatives, who said it contradicts Texas' abstinence-only sexual education policies and intrudes into families' lives. Critics have previously questioned Perry's ties to Merck. Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff, now lobbies for the drug company. And the governor accepted a total of $6,000 from Merck during his re-election campaign. Merck has waged a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to get state legislatures to require girls to get the three-dose vaccine to enroll in school. But on Tuesday the pharmaceutical company announced it was suspending the effort because of pressure from parents and medical groups. The Kentucky House on Thurday passed a bill that would require the vaccination for middle school girls unless their parents sign a form opposing it. Virginia lawmakers have also passed legislation requiring the vaccine, but the governor has not decided if he will sign it.
Note: The drug company lobby is the most powerful in the U.S., as reported by the former editor-in-chief of one of the most respected medical journals in the U.S. Click here for more.