Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bare it all Lindor: Show Us Your….

[as originally posted 11/27/08 on my formerly free thinking blog ]


Lindor Reynolds latest tear-stained tale of woe of how Manitoba girls will die from cervical cancer because our big bad ‘criminal’ government is depriving them of a pre-paid HPV vaccine, takes the cake. Don’t believe us? Won’t take the word of two arseholes? See for yourself.

“Criminal” huh?

We two arseholes agree: charges should be laid. But where to lay them?

We’ll get to the charges, but first, this:

“Let's get it out in the open,” Lindor boldly declares (half way through her peice – isn’t that convenient?) Baring it all Lindor? Oh, we two arseholes like that idea very much - - nothing like bare facts to get to the truth.

Fact: the current federal government foisted an HPV vaccine program on unprepared (and unconsulted) provinces after former Health Minister Tony “I’m such a dork” Clement returned from lunch with Merck executives in March 2007. Virtually overnight, the drug, Gardasil, went from approval for use in Canada to an announcement of $300M in federal dollars in 8 months, a land speed record by Canadian drug approval standards. Moreover, it was done before many concerns of Canada’s immunization experts were addressed. A wise decision? A good investment given the risks/benefits? Only time will tell, but please Lindor, in the meantime, can we not raise the debate above your facile: “That's not just two-tier medicine. That's criminal.”

What’s criminal is Lindor Reynolds and her laziness. We understand you don’t like basic research? Okay, why not try some math? Manitoba’s portion ($10M) is, at best, three year money to cover the cost of the vaccine under the present program parameters (Grade 6 only). Lindor, if all teenage girls were given the vaccine for free what it would it cost? Who would pay? Do we raise taxes to pay for it? Do we cut other health care programs? Cut services? If so, which ones and on what basis? These are all good questions any intrepid journalist might, you know, engage with as she/he gets on with “getting it out in the open.”

Don’t like math or cost-benefit analysis? Us neither. Not our strong point. But why not some context Lindor? How about some research into pharmaceutical pricing and how Merck brought Gardasil to market and the sordid business between Merck and Clement/Harper that clearly created a government-sponsored monopoly for the company in Canada. See any problems there?

Don’t get us wrong Lindor – we are not without sympathy for your plight. After all, we two arseholes know better than most that it’s pretty tough to do real research when you are busy crafting groaners such as: “The only way to completely protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections is to abstain from sex. We know that. We also know many teenagers are having sex.” Wow, thanks for the enlightenment!

By the way, in the interests of full disclosure, we two arseholes also have teenage daughters who are ineligible for the current program. How many teenage daughters does Lindor Reynolds have? Does she too have a vested interest in this issue? Her full disclosure would go along way to explaining her present position - wouldn't it?

Lindor, you’re not the only parent seeking to protect your children. But you must realize that any call for writ large vaccination must be balanced against real budgetary and policy considerations. Do we spend all the allotted federal funds now and leave nothing for next year? Do we spend it only on Gardasil? What about alternatives? What happens now that Gardasil is purportedly effective in stemming the disease in young men? Are they too entitled to a free vaccine? Serious questions for a health care system already overburdened with demands both legitimate and frivolous. Too bad you choose to ignore them. At best it’s lazy, at worst disingenuous and dishonest

Lindor, give us all a break. Calling a government's policies "criminal" may get attention - but without taking into account the long-term implications and costs of a change in vaccination policy - it is little more than a continuation of what you are famous for - irresponsible journalism.

DUNG TOSS VERDICT: We charge Lindor with incompetence and hypocrisy.

DUNG PENALTY: Three heaping handfuls!!

p.s.Lindor: take your own advice - stop the whining

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