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HPV vaccine cited in infertility case
Wis. sisters say drug led to ovarian failure by age 16
Two Wisconsin sisters have asked a federal court to find that a government-recommended vaccine is responsible for them losing the ability to conceive children.
At issue is Gardasil, a three-dose vaccine recommended for children 11 to 12 years old to prevent infection by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) that are linked to genital and oral cancers.
The case of Madelyne Meylor, 20, and Olivia Meylor, 19, of Mount Horeb, Wisc., was presented last week to a special master with the vaccine program at the U.S. Federal Claims Court in Washington, D.C.
A decision from the special master is not expected until early 2014, attorney Mark Krueger said Monday.
The women say the premature ovarian failure they both experienced by age 16 was caused by the three doses of Gardasil they received in their young teens.
Details of their case — which may be the first to be heard by a special master — were not available for review, but medical and scientific witnesses testified last week why Gardasil was responsible for the rare loss of fertility, Mr. Krueger said.
Department of Justice attorneys, representing the Department of Health and Human Services, which promotes HPV vaccines, argued that Gardasil did not cause the women’s ovarian failure, Mr. Krueger said.
Gardasil manufacturer Merck & Co., said the drug’s safety and efficacy have been “studied in more than 25,000 females and males in clinical trials.”
The company said it studied reports of premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) after administration of Gardasil and “concluded that the evidence does not support a causal relationship to the vaccine.”
“There have been no reports of POI in the clinical trials with Gardasil,” Merck said in a statement.
Premature ovarian failure or insufficiency is a rare condition that strikes 1 in 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 29 and 1 in 100 women between the ages of 30 and 39, according to Resolve, the national infertility association. The suspected causes of the condition include defects in reproductive organs, inherited disorders and exposure to anti-cancer drugs and treatments, Resolve said.
Women with ovarian failure can still be candidates for in-vitro fertilization using donor eggs.
The Meylor sisters tested negative for three genetic causes for their ovarian failure, according to a report Friday in the Wisconsin State Journal. The sisters have little or no chance of getting pregnant, but both believe they “could carry a baby conceived through infertility treatments,” the article said.
Mr. Krueger said the sisters believe the three shots of Gardasil triggered an autoimmune disease in them, based on the vaccine’s inclusion of substances designed to boost the human immune system.
These substances — called adjuvants — appear to cause side effects in some people, according to Israeli researcher Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, a specialist in autoimmune conditions, who testified on behalf of the Meylors last week. Dr. Shoenfeld has called the phenomenon “autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants” or ASIA.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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