India stops cervical cancer vaccine trials

April 23, 2010: India has stopped the cervical cancer trials because some girls died. Now, did they die from the vaccine or something else that was coincidental? That's always a question with drug trials because any death has to be listed in the drug's label, even if it turns out it wasn't due to the drug.

However, this vaccine already in its short existence has a pretty bad side effects profile. Girls have died, others have permanent injuries, and others had terrible reactions.

All from a vaccine that is not a cure-all, doesn't prevent all HPV strains, and doesn't eliminate the need for regular doctor visits and Pap smears.

The way I look at vaccines is that if they can eliminate some other cost in healthcare or avoid a terrible disease--and do so safely--I'm okay with them.

I don't think that's the case here. Women will still need to go for Pap smears, and if they think they don't, that's a problem! And as for avoiding a terrible disease, the vaccines don't really help there either. Even for those who got the vaccine, there was less than a 50% reduction in CIN 2/3.

So I think it was a good decision to stop the trials until we know what's going on.

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