Congress Should End Drug Firm ‘Price Gouging’ on Vaccines
The government should take action to curtail vaccine manufacturers' practice of "price gouging," which has "forced" the nation's public health officials to "significantly scale back" inoculation campaigns, a Los Angeles Times editorial states. The editorial cites the examples of Aventis Pasteur, which has "quadrupled" the price of its tetanus/diphtheria vaccine for children, and General Injectables & Vaccines, which delayed shipments of the flu vaccine to California with which it had negotiated a discount, while punctually delivering orders to states that paid full price. However, congressional interest in vaccination campaigns has risen, the editorial notes, adding that Congress has asked the General Accounting Office to investigate whether General Injectables "distribut[ed] the flu vaccine on the basis of profit potential, rather than public health needs." In addition, Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) plans to meet with Aventis and CDC officials to examine whether the "sharp hike" in Aventis' vaccine is because of new manufacturing costs, as the company claims, or because of the company's knowledge that its lone competitor, Wyeth-Lederle, halted production of its tetanus vaccine in 2000. To "stabilize" vaccine supplies in the short term, Congress must increase funding to help purchase more vaccines and improve inoculation campaigns, the editorial states. Furthermore, the editorial urges lawmakers to pass HR 943, a measure introduced by Condit that would give the CDC funding and authority to assess the ability of public and private sectors to produce, distribute and administer vaccines (Los Angeles Times, 3/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.