Can anyone in Massachusetts count?

To the Editor:

Re: "Patrick boosting health spending"
Free cervical cancer vaccine

When you read a statistic like 3,700 women across the entire United States does that sound like very many in comparison to our 150,000,000 female population? It is in fact .01851%. Divided between 50 states, that would be 62 people in Massachusetts. Does it sound wise for the state to pay $300 per vaccine for thousands of girls with the thought that it might have measurable impact on this 62 person statistic which encompasses all age groups? Consider too, HPV cancer has already been reduced 74% with routine pap smears over the past few years and paps still have to be done despite the vaccine because of other cancers. So if the vaccine cuts mortality in half - 31 out of 3,300,000 Massachusetts females would = .0009

Could it be the vaccine manufacturer Merck, ranking 7th nationwide as a contributor to candidates and parties is reaping benefits? If Massachusetts spends $12 million in the new budget to reduce this mortality number, your "investment" will be $193,548.38 per case. Don't ask why U.S. healthcare costs are #1 in the world and the health of Americans does not reflect it. Just count your tax dollars flying out the door to slick marketers of high priced products that will have undetectable impact but sound sooo good - until you do the math. We can't afford this diversion of public health dollars from essential services that will cost less than $194,000 per case. (Hey, this almost sounds like the prices the military pays for hammers or toilets!) Were you counting on public officials to be able to calculate a cost/benefit ratio before turning millions of tax dollars over to Merck for products? Maybe you better do it - because clearly, the new governor doesn't own a calculator.

Doreen Carlson
Greenfield, MA

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