The article, published on August 19, questions the pharmaceutical company's marketing tactics for Gardasil, its HPV vaccine, including the campaign's targeted audience and messaging.
Specifically, the article charges that the company targeted a broad audience, instead of the patient populations most at risk.
It also looked at grants provided to the American College Health Association, the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and how some of the educational programs and speaker's bureaus developed from the funding did not include the full risk and benefit information.
In a statement, Merck said that: “The examples noted in the article were all independent grants; that is, Merck did not initiate the requests, Merck did not provide any information or materials, nor did Merck have any input or influence over the content of the materials those organizations developed. “
The company noted that it discloses all grants of more than $500 and it provides grants to associations that develop their own information to educate and inform audiences about HPV and cervical cancer.