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Canadian academic’s call for moratorium on HPV vaccine sparks controversy

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h5692 (Published 23 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5692
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Canada’s human papillomavirus vaccination program should be halted immediately until its safety can be established, a researcher who has studied patient experiences of the vaccine under a government grant has said.

Geneviève Rail, a professor of critical studies of health at Montreal’s Concordia University, has a $C273 359 (£135 000; €185 000; $208 000) grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research entitled “HPV vaccination discourses, spaces and biopedagogies: Affects and effects on youth’s bodies and subjectivities.” She reports having gathered 170 families whose recounted stories indicate a heavy burden of vaccine injury.

Writing in the Quebec daily newspaper Le Devoir, Rail and her coauthor Abby Lippman, a former professor in McGill University’s department of epidemiology, biostatistics, and occupational health, argued that the vaccine was given to schoolgirls without obtaining proper informed consent.1 They said that it had caused serious adverse events around the world, that Canada’s system of reporting was inadequate to detect problems, that it was a misplaced priority because cervical cancer was not a leading cause of death, that its efficacy was not proven, that it may even exacerbate precancerous lesions, and that it was fraudulently marketed and too hastily approved.

“Across the world,” the authors wrote, “young vaccinated girls are the protagonists in a drama of which only the pharmaceutical companies know the …

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