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Thursday, March 19, 2009

South Dakota Cuts Funding for HPV Vaccine

Update 15:15 CDT: KELO changes the story! Turns out the stimulus money saves the HPV vaccine program! This post is now moot (mostly)!

I'm ashamed of myself: I completely missed this line of the state budget... or should I say, this erased line of the budget. The budget Governor Rounds signed yesterday eliminates the $300,000* the state had been giving to cut the cost of Gardasil, the vaccine against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

So let me see if I get this:
  • Gardasil is the first cancer vaccine ever (says Dr. Maria Bell aptly points out).
  • It could keep 25 South Dakota women each year from getting cervical cancer (and keep nine from dying).
  • South Dakota can't find 40 cents per person to maintain this program.
  • South Dakota can find 50 cents per person—$400,000—to subsidize the State Fair.
Remember last year, when the governor signed the budget and then went over the Legislature's heads to funnel $770,000 to the Classroom Connections laptop program, which the Legislature had cut but the Governor really wanted? I thought Governor Rounds could face impeachment for such an end run around the normal budget process, but no one filed papers on him, so I guess it was fine.

So why not this year? If he wants to restore this life-saving program—and he is a pro-life governor, so why wouldn't he?—all needs to do is take another creative look at those funds floating around in Pierre, just like last year, find that $300K, and let the Department of Health get back to saving women's lives.


  1. Let's hope our medical professionals across South Dakota lobby the Governor and our legislators to reinstate this valuable cancer cure program. The medical cost savings in the future of averting cervical cancer is huge compared to today's $300,000 price tag.

    Perhaps even a reduced level of support in which parents pay 1/3rd and the State pays 2/3rd, sort of like the State Fair and their $400,000 stipend vs. the $750,000 they received last year. At least it would encourage families to have their daughters vaccinated.

  2. I think the vaccine is definitely a good idea. I will send my 90 cents to the state if you will. However, tell me again why it is the governments responsibility to pay for this? I had a flu vaccine this year and last year. I believe it was $20.00. I paid for it myself and did not write a letter to Governor Rounds asking him to pay it for me.

  3. The HPV Vaccine runs about $360 for three shots, so a little more than a $20 flu shot. Just saving one young girl from cervical cancer is worth the entire $300,000 previously budgeted. We know it will prevent many more than just one case of cervical cancer. It should have the same budget rationale as the Zero-to-Three Funding for at-risk children. It's all about taking care of our most precious resource and giving them the best opportunity for future success.

  4. So does that mean that three of us will now send in the 90 cents?

  5. How about negotiate with the makers of the HPV vaccine for better pricing? Intuitively, $360.00 per pop seems like we are being held hostage by the Pharmaceutical company. I'm guessing, if they thought they were about to give up $300,000 in business they would be willing to make some adjustments.

  6. I disagree with Governor Rounds on many things, but in this instance, I stand up and applaud him.

    Do I support a vaccine that has been proven to be a safe and effective deterrent against cancer and STDs? Of course. But I do not support our state government colluding with big pharmaceutical companies such as Merck as they attempt to make this very expensive, minimally tested vaccine--which has yet to prove that it has effectively prevented a single case of cervical cancer--profitable by foisting it on the taxpayers.

    Anon 11:36's comment that the drug is a "valuable cancer cure" just goes to show how well Merck and their "one less" advertising campaign have swayed us into a false sense of security. Gardasil itself is not a cancer "cure". All it can rightfully claim to do is reduce instances of cervical cancer by preventing contraction of certain HPV strains.

    There are too many risks and too many unanswered questions. Yes, it is FDA-approved, but so were Vioxx, Celebrex, Crestor et. al. Cory, you have a young daughter -- would you be supportive of having her vaccinated? For my own daughter, until more testing has been done, the answer is no.

  7. Well Cory? Do you still beg to differ? I know you will want to win this argument at all costs, so what is it?

  8. The collusion between Pierre and Big Pharma can't be that strong if Rounds included this program on his list of cuts. Thank goodness for the stimulus reversing these cuts.

    I don't like shots, but it's pretty likely we'll take our daughter in for this one.


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