Gardasil: Boys become new target of lucrative drug

October 27, 2011

Parental choice or federal intervention?

Gardasil, the controversial vaccine said to treat sexually transmitted Human Papilloma virus (HPV), is now being recommended for 11 and 12-year-old boys. The drug is touted as protecting against anal and throat cancers, not a major problem with young boys. Originally it was said to prevent cervical cancer and was being sold as a panacea for girls.

Seeing Red AZ wrote about this problematic drug in July 2008.  It first gained national prominence when Texas Gov. Rick Perry mandated its use after Merck Pharmaceuticals PAC gave hefty donations to his campaign. Perry denied the donations influenced his decision to issue the executive order — bypassing the Texas legislature — from which parents could not opt in, but had to submit a written form to the State Health Department in Austin opting out of having their young daughters receive this fast-tracked, unproven vaccine, on the market less than a year.  Perry’s chief-of-staff landed a lucrative lobbying position with the drug company. 

Now, the latest recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is likely to broaden the use of the HPV vaccine, since most private insurers pay for vaccines once the committee recommends them. The HPV vaccine is unusually expensive. The three recommended doses cost pediatricians more than $300 and patients are often charged hundreds more.

But this is no bargain. Vaccinating the nation’s 11- and 12-year-old boys will cost almost $140 million annually, with the one-time “catch-up” among males 13 to 21 costing hundreds of millions more. Taxpayers, via federal subsidies, pay for about half of all vaccinations.

Not only are the CDC committee’s recommendations routinely used by private insurers to determine which vaccines to pay for, but the Obama administration’s Fed-Med legislation of 2010 requires insurers participating in health exchanges to offer vaccines recommended by the committee. The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2007 that widespread use of the drug would guarantee the drug maker billions of dollars in annual revenue.

Vaccination rates in girls have remained relatively low, as parents balked when reports were released about the lack of substantive testing on the drug, coupled with the motivating profitability factors for the drug manufacturer. So boys are the next best option for Merck & Co.

This excellent editorial on Gardasil appeared n the Journal of the American Medical Association, declaring that “serious questions regarding the overall effectiveness of the vaccine” needed to be answered and that more long-term studies were called for. The article concludes with this cogent observation: “When weighing evidence about risks and benefits, it is also appropriate to ask who takes the risk, and who gets the benefit. Patients and the public logically expect that only medical and scientific evidence is put on the balance. If other matters weigh in, such as profit for a company or financial or professional gains for physicians or groups of physicians, the balance is easily skewed. The balance will also tilt if the adverse events are not calculated correctly.”

Gov. Brewer challenges IRC; stands up for Arizonans

October 26, 2011

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is demanding answers from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) regarding alleged improprieties, taking the first step in the process to forcibly remove one or more of the commissioners. The commission chairman is Colleen Mathis. Commissioners are Scott Freeman, Jose Herrera, Linda McNulty and Richard Stertz. Their bios can be read in the link.

Brewer’s letter to the commissioners can be read here. She writes that she is giving notice to the members of the commission regarding allegations that they have committed substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office during their service.

Gov. Brewer’s statement alleging the gross misconduct can be read here.

The governor wrote this pointed letter specifically to IRC Chair Colleen Mathis, telling her the citizens of Arizona deserve better and expect the IRC to follow the straightforward constitutional requirements prioritizing geographically compact and contiguous districts and respecting communities of interest. Otherwise, Gov. Brewer writes, the public will not have confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process.

Good job, Governor Brewer!

And for the rest of us —  try figuring out these maps.

Phx taxpayers on hook for city pension hikes

October 26, 2011

$100 million more for indefensible costs

It’s a rare occurrence that this site links directly to an article in the daily newspaper.  Today we make an exception as we link to a well researched and fact-filled report by Craig Harris regarding the unsustainably costly pensions and benefits received by employees of the City of Phoenix.

Harris writes: Phoenix residents for a second straight year will pay more than $100 million in fiscal 2012-13 to maintain the city’s ailing employee-pension system, while a task force considers whether current city employees should shoulder more of the cost.

Deputy City Manager Rick Naimark said Tuesday that the city’s financial contribution to the Phoenix Employee Retirement Plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will increase to $110 million, roughly $3.6 million more than the current fiscal year.

Since 2000-01, when the city paid $22.3 million to fund the pension plan, annual taxpayer-funded city contributions have increased by 377 percent, city records show. Eleven years ago, the city’s contribution to the pension plan on behalf of each employee amounted to roughly 6 percent of the employee’s income. City workers, meanwhile, contributed 5 percent of their pay.

Today, employees still set aside 5 percent of their pay for their pensions, as required by city charter. But Phoenix’s contribution to the plan on behalf of each employee now equates to roughly 18 percent of each employee’s pay, and that figure will rise to slightly more than 20 percent next fiscal year, Naimark said.

The complete report can be read here.

A pension reform panel meets today at 3:00 pm to discuss proposed pension changes for current Phoenix employees. The meeting will take place in the Phoenix City Council Chambers,200 W. Jefferson Street.

Yesterday hundreds of union supporters of Democrat mayoral candidate Greg Stanton packed the council chamber to urge council members to keep the 2 percent tax on food.  Liberal Stanton resigned his council position to run for mayor but said he would have voted in support of the tax.

Republican mayoral candidate Wes Gullett has pledged fiscal accountability and to rescind the outrageous tax.

With Stanton on the council, the City of Phoenix paid $14.3 million to 6,989 employees in unconscionable “retention bonuses.” That’s $2 million more than the food tax would bring in. The fiscally conservative Americans for Prosperity has named Stanton Hero of Big Government and Champion of Big Government.

You‘re teaching WHAT to my child?

October 25, 2011

No wonder home schooling is gaining adherents

This New York Post article on sex ed curriculum to be taught in New York City public schools is more than eyebrow raising.  The topics are shocking — yet the courses will be mandatory in middle and high schools next year.

If that’s not bad enough, check out the asterisk* marked subjects that will be taught to 11 and 12-year-old children. The specifics are graphic enough that we’ll let you check out the topics of study yourselves. There are four short paragraphs marked in this manner. Whereas the first two will have you steamed, the last two are guaranteed to enrage.

Student field trips will include a visit to the local pharmacy, where they will compare and contrast condoms in terms of brand, price, and specific features. Others will research and map out a route from school to clinics providing birth control and STD tests. The children are also directed to Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice astoundingly graphic website.

Johnny might not be able to read, but he’ll soon find out that bestiality is not a course in grooming and obedience training for pooches at the neighborhood veterinarian’s office.

The proficiency percentages of New York City school children on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests are unacceptably low. Just 22 percent of the city’s eighth graders and just 29 percent of the city’s fourth graders are reading at grade level.

Eighth-grade reading has shown no improvement since 2003. But even with “significant” fourth-grade gains, only 35 percent of city fourth-grade students are proficient in math, according to NAEP data.

Students won’t be prepared for the competitive international marketplace, but they’ll be able to price shop condoms and probably teach Bill Clinton a thing or two about….well, you know.

Here is the research report titled “Sex Ed in the NYC Public School System.” Prepared by the long-controversial SIECUS and NARAL Pro-Choice New York, it includes the Obama administration’s HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius’ stamp of approval. NARAL has gone through several incarnations since its 1969 inception — first as National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. It then became the National Abortion Rights Action League and later National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Now it merely uses the less revealing acronym. But don’t be fooled. The objective is still to undermine family and religious values.

McCain: Campaign rhetoric v. harsh reality

October 24, 2011

Protecting whom? Syrians take precedence over Americans

Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Jordan Sunday, John McCain raised the prospect of military action to protect civilians in Syria now that NATO’s air campaign in Libya is ending.

Interesting that McCain would choose a meeting of the World Economic Forum to tout armed intervention in Syria, when our southern border remains a sieve through which passes not only illegals flowing from Mexico, Central and South America — it is also a known portal for Islamic terrorists.

As far back as 2005, FBI director Robert Mueller testified before the Senate Committee on Intelligence and to Congress saying “there are individuals from countries with known Al Qaeda connections who are changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and obtaining false Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic.”

Director Mueller raised serious concerns over “OTMs” –-  illegals Other than Mexicans — crossing the southwest border at alarming rates. He has repeatedly warned of the encroachment of Islamic extremists on our soil.

We’d like to ask Sen. McCain what he intends to do about our border. You know, that one he always said he wanted to “secure first?” He never quite got around to giving the rest of the answer to the elephant-in-the-room question, “First before what?” although we are all too aware he was speaking his “straight talk” for “amnesty.”

What happened to “completing the danged fence,” and that famed “Ten Point Plan” you peddled to the people of Arizona during your last senate race, Mr. McCain? And could you tell us why American citizens take a back seat to those of Syria?

During the 2010 election, the anxious McCain began talking like a border hawk, even taping commercials in which the salty-tongued former sailor advocated bringing troops and law enforcement together and completing “the danged fence” to keep illegals out of America. That never happened.

Now he is more concerned with protecting the people of Syria.

McCain ally Babeu announces for Congress

October 24, 2011

As anticipated, Paul Babeu announced the opening of an exploratory congressional campaign for the new AZ-4 River District today. The ubiquitous Pinal County Sheriff has been not-so-coyly campaigning for at least a year.

Babeu is best remembered partnering with John McCain in McCain’s last senate campaign as the two walked Arizona’s porous southern border which provides the major gateway for millions of illegal aliens to enter the United States. A worried Señor Juan McAmnesty suddenly veered to the right and needed a cohort in uniform to give him what he hoped would be a newfound credibility on a topic where he had none. After his re-election, he dropped the issue like a hot rock. 

Babeu’s campaign communiqué includes this line: “I believe it may be time for a new Sheriff in Washington,” adding in his pitch for contributions: “you can be sure that Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and the liberal fundraising juggernaut led by George Soros will do everything they can to stop us. They’ll spend whatever it takes.”

That’s an interesting line for Babeu to employ, since Whatever it takes is the title of J.D. Hayworth’s book. The former Congressman was McCain’s adversary, and was responsible for McCain’s momentary rightward lurch.

Look for McCain to hop aboard the Babeu Express, with some more of his “straight talk.”

Leftists invade AZ Rep. Trent Franks’ Town Hall

October 24, 2011

Hecklers from attempted to disrupt the Town Hall of Arizona Republican Second Congressional District U.S. Rep. Trent Franks. The meeting was held Saturday in Peoria, Arizona. 

One constituent who had had enough of the liberal extremists’ boorish behavior, finally called out: “Will you shut up so we can hear the congressman? We are not here to listen to you. Get out of here!  I know what Saul Alinsky is all about!  Get out!”