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Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HPV bill efforts end in Kansas

February 21, 2007

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Just weeks after we started asking questions about Kansas politicians and financial ties to the drug company Merck, a proposed bill that could have affected young girls fails. Enlarge video

Many states are still considering the proposal but here lawmakers didn't pass the legislation that would have required girls in sixth grade be vaccinated against HPV - a sexually transmitted disease than can cause cervical cancer.

The vaccine is made by Merck. The company also says they have ended their nationwide lobbying campaign.

And now the bill has failed in Kansas. Some of the Kansas Lawmakers who took money from Merck actually sponsored the bill.

The bill's chief sponsor isn't upset over the bill's defeat.

Drugmaker Merck is done trying to influence lawmakers through campaign contributions. This announcement comes as Kansas lawmakers fail to advance a bill that would make the HPV vaccine Gardasil mandatory in Kansas.

But other states are still considering the measure.

Aside from Kansas, 20 other states have considered similar proposals this year. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order mandating the drug, and even now, he says he's not sorry.

"Someone asked me the other day don't you wish you hadn't done it and I said no. I am truly glad," Governor Perry said about the issue.

In Kansas, the bill's chief sponsor didn't take any money from Merck.

Representative Delia Garcia has said from the beginning she was only interested in Kansas' young women, and she says she's not too disappointed the bill isn't going anywhere this year.

"So that's not going to happen this year, it looks like. I think as far as legislation goes, no, as far as education and activity, yes. I mean if anything that's the bottom line that has been. We're very proud of the inroads we've made in educating some of my colleagues and the public on this and we will be continuing to do so," Garcia explained.

Garcia admits it was probably wise for Merck back off on the behind the scenes lawmakers lobbying.

"I think it was probably a good move on Merck's behalf to do that. I think now the focus will be able to go where it should be and that's we have a vaccination that prevents cervical cancer," Garcia added.

Merck has made donations to several Kansas politicians, including a few of those who sponsored the HPV vaccine bill.

In the last election cycle, Rep. Bill Feuerborn accepted $100 from Merck.

Rep. Judy Morrison received $200, and Rep. Barbara Ballard received $300 from the drug maker.

This information comes from the website www.followthemoney.org.

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