Gardasil, Zostavax, and Rotateq were all vaccines introduced by Merck in late 2005 in an attempt to turn their finances around in the wake of litigation over thousands of deaths allegedly caused by the painkiller Vioxx.
However, Gardasil has caused conflicts between state legislatures who want to require young girls to take it and parents who believe such laws circumvent their rights. Meanwhile, Rotateq, designed to prevent gastrointestinal illnesses in children, has led to growing incidents of intussusception, a rare and life-threatening form of intestinal blockage.
In the wake of the continuing controversy over the Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Merck has ended its lobbying campaign to make Gardasil a mandatory vaccine in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has been supportive of Gardasil, was nonetheless pleased about the end of the campaign, citing concerns about requiring another vaccine for a problem that doesn't have a large impact on health nationwide.
At the same time, reports are being made of side effects associated with Gardasil, including fainting and dizziness. But a potentially far more dangerous risk is the growing incidence of intussusception among children who use Merck's vaccine Rotateq. Intussusception occurs when the intestine telescopes into itself, causing an obstruction of the bowel that is repaired surgically.