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Merck Funds Friends, Gets Benefits
After receiving six-figure grants from the pharmaceutical company Merck, three medical associations promoted the company's Gardasil vaccine, "using virtually the same strategy that Merck employed in its marketing campaign." That's according to an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which warned that Gardasil's marketing campaign presents "important challenges to physician practice and medical professionalism." Merck gave $199,000 to the American College Health Association (ACHA), $300,000 to the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) and $250,000 to the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO). ACHA then sponsored "a Webcast viewed by 350 members" about Gardasil and sent "e-mails to college and university students urging them to get vaccinated." ASCCP encouraged doctors to ask "states and federal agencies to pay for the vaccine" and support "mandates for use" of Gardasil. SGO developed "teaching materials [that] omitted cautionary qualifications" about Gardasil. The groups say they disclosed the Merck funding and their activities were not impacted by it.