Vaccines: Time for Legislation

By Shlomo Maital


  New York Times report Elisabeth Rosenthal reveals to us another Big Pharma ripoff – this time related to vaccines.   When in the world will the U.S. Congress act to end this travesty?

   According to Rosenthal, Big Pharma uses the ‘new improved yogurt’ trick to fatten profits and hurt the middle class and the poor.  If you sell price-regulated yogurt,  change the package, add something (fermented kiwi juice) – and claim it is a new product, hence not subject to the old price controls.

   In vaccines Rosenthal writes:

     “Old vaccines have been reformulated with higher costs. New ones have entered the market at once-unthinkable prices. Together, since 1986, they have pushed up the average cost to fully vaccinate a child with private insurance to the age of 18 to $2,192 from $100, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even with deep discounts, the costs for the federal government, which buys half of all vaccines for the nation’s children, have increased 15-fold during that period. The most expensive shot for young children in Dr. Irvin’s refrigerator is Prevnar 13, which prevents diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria, from ear infections to pneumonia. Like many vaccines, Prevnar requires multiple jabs. Each shot is priced at $136, and every child in the United States is required to get four doses before entering school. Pfizer, the sole manufacturer, had revenues of nearly $4 billion from its Prevnar vaccine line last year, about double what it made from high-profile drugs like Lipitor and Viagra, which now face generic competitors.”

Let’s see that again. A price rise from $100 to $2,192???   And remember vaccination is not optional; it is essential for the lifetime health and wellbeing of every child.

  Half of all vaccines are bought by the U.S. federal government. Their costs have risen 15-fold!   Why is it that when we ordinary folks get ripped off, we scream – but when Big Pharma rips off the government, there is silence?? At a time when deep budget cuts are hurting everyone?  

   When one company, Pfizer, makes $4 billion from ONE vaccine, Prevnar, double what it makes from a high-profile blockbuster drug, something is radically wrong. Wake up America!