Associated Press, this morning:

Merck & Co. has suspended its lobbying campaign to persuade state legislatures to mandate that adolescent girls get the company’s new vaccine against cervical cancer as a requirement for school attendance, the company said Tuesday….

Last month, the AP reported that Merck was channeling money for its state-mandate campaign through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators across the country.

The New York Times, this morning….

Reacting to a furor from some parents, advocacy groups and public health experts, Merck said yesterday that it would stop lobbying state legislatures to require the use of its new cervical cancer vaccine….

Part of the states’ rush to embrace the vaccine has been instigated by Merck efforts that began before federal regulators approved the product last year….

Merck… [said] … it would stop lobbying specifically for state mandates….

Dr. Richard M. Haupt, executive director for medical affairs in Merck’s vaccine division… declined to say how much money or staff resources Merck had expended in its efforts to require use of the cervical cancer vaccine….

Merck has been a financial backer of Women in Government, a national organization of legislators whose members have sponsored some of the state laws to make the vaccine mandatory….

Debbie Halvorson, the Democratic majority leader of the Illinois State Senate, who had a hysterectomy as a result of the human papillomavirus, is the sponsor of legislation to make the vaccine mandatory. She said she would continue to press for the bill, but that it was a good idea on Merck’s part to stop lobbying.

“If the people out there are thinking that Merck is doing all this, and pushing our buttons, they need to just step away,” she said. “The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing has nothing to do with Merck.”

Either Halvorson neglected to tell the New York Times she is a board member of Women in Government, or the Times omitted that critical piece of information.  I have alerted the authors of the article, in case they were unaware.

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