Japan Anti-Vaxxer Wins Legal Battle with a Mouse

There is high-certainty evidence that HPV vaccines protect against cervical precancer in adolescent girls and young women

japanese women taking photos of cherry blossoms

A prominent critic of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recently won a libel case in Japan.

This case is a setback for scientists attempting to counter claims that the HPV vaccine has dangerous side effects. 

This case has highlighted the unusually staunch opposition by activists in Japan to the use of the HPV vaccine and is likely to have a chilling effect on scientists who respond to so-called “anti-vaxx” campaigners, reported the Financial Times on March 24, 2019. 

The libel case turned on the use of the word “fabricated” in an experiment on a mouse. The court found that was not true, as the doctor involved had indeed conducted the experiment. 

An internal investigation by Shinshu University cleared the doctor of fabrication, but criticized him for presenting preliminary evidence from ‘just one mouse’, as a conclusive research result.   

“This judgment turns an issue of science into an issue of libel and for doctors and scientists that is unacceptable,” said Dr. Isamu Ishiwata, who chairs a group called Protecting The Lives We Can, which supports Dr. Riko Muranaka.   

She was ordered by a court to pay US $30,000 in damages plus legal costs to Shuichi Ikeda, the former dean of the medical school at Shinshu University. 

Dr. Muranaka has been recognized for her efforts challenging a vociferous anti-vaxx campaign against the HPV vaccine in Japan.   

“The contents of this judgment have nothing to do with the safety of the cervical cancer vaccine,” said Dr. Muranaka. 

Controversy over the HPV vaccine, which protects against a virus linked to almost all cases of cervical cancer, erupted in Japan in 2013 when a video released online claimed to show extreme neurological side effects of the vaccine. 

This video led Japan’s health ministry to stop recommending the HPV injection and vaccination rates collapsed from more than 70 percent.

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Doctors have predicted that the failure to vaccinate millions of young women in Japan could result in thousands of preventable cervical cancers. 

Meta-analyses of clinical trials covering tens of thousands of patients continue to show the HPV vaccine is safe. 

Dr. Muranaka said the attacks on the HPV vaccine were fake news. 

“Women who decided not to vaccinate lost their chance to protect their life and health,” Dr. Muranaka said.“ 

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HPV vaccines can be found in most authorized pharmacies and physician offices in the USA.

To schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this page.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides HPV vaccine prices for general information. And vaccine discounts can be found here.

Patient information resources and support can be accessed from the HPV Awareness 2019 campaign.