Merck’s lobbying efforts to get states to pass laws requiring that preteen girls be vaccinated against cervical cancer has backfired and Merck’s has said it will stop doing it (see “Merck Quits Lobbying for Mandatory Gardasil Vaccination“).

It would be interesting to know how much money Merck spent in its efforts. At least one of my blogger colleagues suggested that the money Merck saves from not lobbying could be used to lower the cost of the vaccine, which he claims is the “most expensive vaccine ever” (see “Merck – Gardasil: are we still in Kansas, Toto?“).

It’s time to engage the left side of our brains and do some math.

First, how much is or was Merck paying for lobbying?

Let’s see… Texas Governor Perry is said to have received $6,000. In Kansas, sponsors of a mandatory vaccination bill there have taken in a total of $2,400 (see “Merck’s pitiful Gardasil Lobbying Budget — in Kansas, At Least”).

$2,000 here, $6,000 there… pretty soon we are talking… thousands! Not exactly a treasure chest.

Buying a Governor may not be representative of what Merck tried to do in every state — the model is more like what it did in Kansas. I know, most of us are not in Kansas, so let’s say the average Merck spent — or intended to spend before pulling the plug — in ALL fifty states was say $5,000 per state or $250,000 in total.

I’ve always argued that PR is a cheaper form of marketing and this proves it. Look at all the press Gardasil has gotten for that $250,000! You couldn’t buy a cheap cable TV commercial spot for that pitiful sum!

Oh, I forgot! The publicity was all negative!

But does it matter? I bet there are many more parents right now talking to their doctors about Gardasil than before all hell broke out over this mandatory vaccination controversy.

But I digress from my little math exercise, which is designed to show how much the price of the vaccine could be reduced IF Merck had decided to give the lobbying money to consumers/voters (by way of rebates) rather than to politicians.

Look, forget the math! It would amount to practically nothing! Spread $250,000 over how many doses/patients? There has got to be a zillion preteen girls in the US! It wouldn’t even come to $1 off of the $360 price of the vaccine.

So, there’s goes that idea!

But it’s interesting how cheap it is to buy a politician. For $6,000 you can get a Governor to stick his neck out and make a controversial decision, bypassing any discussion in his/her state legislature! Wow!

I think it’s cheaper to buy a politician than a doctor! I know that a lot of people think doctors are paid off with cheap pens and mugs worth considerably less than $6,000. But these trinkets are for the rank-and-file insignificant docs. The big guns — ie, key opinion leaders, “consultants”, and post-marketing study leaders — are given an order of magnitude more money than Perry got!

All this leads me to wonder what other issues affecting the pharmaceutical industry are being influenced by lobbying? I know the pharmaceutical industry spends a lot of money on lobbying, but I am too lazy to look up the amount.

It all goes to show how one little mis-step — involving a minuscule amount of money — can shine a bad light on the whole industry.

Merck — slap along side of head — what were you thinking! PhRMA should have a stupidity fine for any of its members who, due to their stupid actions, further drag the industry’s name in the mud.