Breaking News
February 24, 2018 - UCLA researchers use fluorescent colored proteins to trace origin of heart cells
February 24, 2018 - Home Routines Can Boost a Child’s Readiness for School
February 24, 2018 - FDA Investigating Misuse, Abuse of Gabapentinoids
February 24, 2018 - Scientists find key proteins control risk of osteoarthritis during aging
February 24, 2018 - Izon announce the launch of the qEV2 and qEV10 Exosome Isolation columns
February 24, 2018 - New CSIRO technology can create clean drinking water
February 24, 2018 - Treating sleep-disordered breathing may improve prognosis of heart failure patients
February 24, 2018 - More boys begin school a year late than girls, study finds
February 24, 2018 - Early life exposure to green space could have beneficial effects on cognitive function
February 24, 2018 - Joint Surgery: Aspirin Equals NOAC for Post-Acute VTE Prevention
February 23, 2018 - Scientists identify new marker of arthritis in mice
February 23, 2018 - Beetroot juice supplements may benefit patients with heart failure
February 23, 2018 - New study identifies novel molecular biomarkers of preeclampsia
February 23, 2018 - Researchers discover new link between gut bacteria and obesity
February 23, 2018 - Aimmune Therapeutics’ Pivotal Phase 3 PALISADE Trial of AR101 Meets Primary Endpoint in Patients With Peanut Allergy
February 23, 2018 - Improving Glaucoma Care: Ophthalmology Times
February 23, 2018 - Preventing dementia: The promising, the disappointing and the inconclusive
February 23, 2018 - Duke researchers show how to retrain immune system of peanut-allergy mice
February 23, 2018 - Older males could live longer with light intensity exercise, study suggests
February 23, 2018 - C-sections and gut bacteria linked to childhood obesity risk
February 23, 2018 - Asthmatics have lower degree of DNA methylation in certain immune cells
February 23, 2018 - Uniforms coated with copper nanoparticles could reduce spread of hospital infections
February 23, 2018 - What Not to Do If You Have Asthma and Want to Get Pregnant
February 23, 2018 - Deep brain stimulation may be promising Alzheimer’s treatment
February 23, 2018 - AMSBIO offers new PARPtrap Assay Kit
February 23, 2018 - New study identifies mechanisms to lengthen egg viability in worms
February 23, 2018 - Interventions to improve self-concept could be critical in treating mental health patients
February 23, 2018 - Few minutes of physical activity may lower risk of death in older men, research suggests
February 23, 2018 - Modifications in HIV test enable rapid detection of Zika virus, study states
February 23, 2018 - Could Hackers Target Heart Devices?
February 23, 2018 - Kids’ Mental Health Status Not a Factor in Gun Storage
February 23, 2018 - Revellers ready for festival drug checks, study finds
February 23, 2018 - Stanford researchers explore how enzyme changes and becomes antibiotic-resistant
February 23, 2018 - Scientists decode molecular structure of healthy huntingtin protein
February 23, 2018 - Efficacy of cancer immunotherapy increased by deactivating tumor defence mechanism
February 23, 2018 - Epigenetic changes due to normal aging process linked to cancer risk
February 23, 2018 - Evaluations of Medicaid experiments by states, CMS are weak, GAO says
February 23, 2018 - Biomarkers ID’d for Anesthesia-Related Neural Damage
February 23, 2018 - Study reveals how kidney disease happens
February 23, 2018 - Iron deficiency early in life can have long-lasting consequences for the brain
February 23, 2018 - High protein diet reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease, research finds
February 23, 2018 - Research extends powerful capabilities of MRI to nanometer scale
February 23, 2018 - Scientists show that cutting-edge technique can efficiently sort nano-sized particles
February 23, 2018 - Dornier’s new laser innovation delivers confidence to glide through deflected scopes
February 23, 2018 - Neurocrine Biosciences Will File New Drug Application for Opicapone for Parkinson’s Disease Based on Existing Pivotal Clinical Trial Data
February 23, 2018 - Bariatric Surgery Enabled Stopping Diabetes Meds
February 23, 2018 - C-sections and gut bacteria increase risk of childhood obesity
February 23, 2018 - Busting myths about diet and kidney stones
February 23, 2018 - Reformulating vaccines to prevent relapse
February 23, 2018 - Prophylactic use of haloperidol does not reduce delirium burden
February 23, 2018 - Higher prevalence of kidney stones in Southern United States
February 23, 2018 - Lithotripsy has revolutionized modern kidney stone management
February 23, 2018 - Researchers describe important step toward gene therapy for patients with Sandhoff disease
February 23, 2018 - Pain Therapeutics Resubmits New Drug Application for Remoxy ER, an Abuse-Deterrent, Extended-Release Drug Candidate for the Treatment of Chronic Pain
February 23, 2018 - Combo Therapy Highly Active in Untreated RCC
February 23, 2018 - Boosting a key protein to help bones that won’t heal
February 23, 2018 - Advanced method holds promise for substantial improvements in breast cancer diagnosis
February 23, 2018 - MRI and machine learning could predict whether OCD patients will benefit from treatment
February 23, 2018 - Comparing low-fat and low-carb diets finds little difference
February 23, 2018 - FDA Alert: Clarithromycin (Biaxin): Drug Safety Communication
February 23, 2018 - Out of Limbo Into Bomb Scare
February 23, 2018 - Patients who achieve short-term weight loss before bariatric surgery have better outcomes
February 23, 2018 - Beetroot may reduce kidney failure risk after heart x-ray, research reveals
February 23, 2018 - Sleep disruptions in menopause correlated with hot flashes and depression
February 23, 2018 - Scientists discover new treatment approach to curb severe myocarditis
February 23, 2018 - ‘Click chemistry’ approach may improve disease-fighting properties of drugs
February 23, 2018 - NIGHTSEA and EMS team up to offer KEY Award in fluorescence stereo microscopy
February 23, 2018 - Calorie restriction improves intestinal-tissue regeneration after injury
February 23, 2018 - Tobacco Kills, No Matter How It’s Smoked: Study
February 23, 2018 - Q&A: Avindra Nath, MD | Medpage Today
February 23, 2018 - Adherence to sleep apnea treatment affects risk of hospital readmission
February 23, 2018 - Zika virus could be alternative for treatment of aggressive brain cancer
February 23, 2018 - Carbon monoxide enhances efficacy of antibiotic against stomach infection
February 23, 2018 - Study sheds light on biological mechanisms that drive rare pediatric neurogenetic disorders
February 23, 2018 - MSD and Ferring Pharmaceuticals Complete Largest Ever Clinical Trial in Postpartum Haemorrhage
February 23, 2018 - Portable ultrasound can help better detect fluid in the lungs of patients with end-stage kidney disease
February 23, 2018 - Postnova AF2000 system offers reliable characterization of trace metal colloid distribution in the environment
February 23, 2018 - Pioneering study may pave way for effective painkillers to treat neuropathic pain
February 23, 2018 - Research opens up new avenue to minimize risks of transplants
February 22, 2018 - Cabozantinib Active in Advanced Thyroid Cancer
The ratcheting cost of the pneumococcal vaccine: What gives?

The ratcheting cost of the pneumococcal vaccine: What gives?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

It’s from the drug company Pfizer Inc., and it informs her that the price tag for the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 is going up. Again.

And it makes her angry.

“They’re the only ones who make it,” she said. “It’s like buying gas in a hurricane — or Coke in an airport. They charge what they want to.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a consultatory panel to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends Prevnar 13 for all children younger than 2 — given at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months — as well as for adults 65 and older.

It protects against pneumonia as well as ear and other infections. Many states require proof that children have received the vaccine in order to attend school.

The vaccine’s formulation has remained mostly unchanged since its 2010 federal approval, but its price continues creeping up, increasing by about 5 or 6 percent most years. In just eight years, its cost has climbed by more than 50 percent.

It is among the most expensive vaccines Irvin provides her young patients.

Doctors and clinics purchase the vaccine and then, once they inject patients, they typically recoup the cost through patients’ insurance coverage. In most cases there are no out-of-pocket costs.

But the steady rise in prices for branded drugs contributes indirectly to rises in premiums, deductibles and government health spending, analysts say.

A full pediatric course of the vaccine typically involves four shots. In 2010, a single shot cost about $109, according to pricing archives kept by the CDC. It currently costs about $170, according to those archives. Next year, Pfizer says, a shot will cost almost $180.

“Pfizer and other drug companies are raising their prices because they can,” said Gerard Anderson, a health policy professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies drug pricing. “They have a patent, and they have a CDC recommendation, which is a double whammy — and a strong incentive for price increases.”

The company disagrees — arguing vaccine pricing supports research for new immunizations, along with ongoing efforts to keep products safe and to improve effectiveness. For instance, Prevnar 13’s shelf life was extended from two years to three years this year. Pricing also doesn’t affect access.

“Thanks to comprehensive health authority guidelines, Prevnar 13 is one of the most widely available public health interventions, supported by broad insurance coverage and innovative federal programs that guarantee access to vulnerable populations,” Pfizer spokeswoman Sally Beatty said in an email.

But such arguments don’t justify the pattern of “consistent price increases,” suggested Ameet Sarpatwari, an epidemiologist and lawyer at Harvard Medical School, who studies drug policy.

“Does that explain what’s going on? Probably not,” he said. “The onus should be on them to show us why this is needed.”

Consumers are not likely to feel a pinch from these increases directly. The Affordable Care Act requires that ACIP-recommended vaccines are covered by insurance, with no cost sharing.

There are other implications, though.

Higher vaccine prices make it harder for physicians to stock up, noted Michael Munger, a family doctor in Overland Park, Kan., and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

They have to buy immunizations in advance to provide them for patients. Insurance will eventually reimburse them — typically at cost — but it can take months for that to come through, which is an especially tough proposition for small practices on tight budgets.

“You’ve got to keep track of your inventory, and make sure you don’t have any waste, and are going to get adequate reimbursement,” he said. “The cost of vaccines is definitely something in primary care we worry about, because we’re on thin margins. … You don’t want to provide a service you lose money on, even if it’s as important as immunization.”

Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, has also seen its price climbing. And, in a similar response, OB-GYNs are providing it in smaller numbers.

A vaccine like Prevnar 13 is harder to make than older vaccines that are much cheaper, said William Moss, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who specializes in vaccines and global children’s health. It provides immunization for 13 different variations of pneumococcal infection. That makes it a more effective vaccine, but also one that requires greater investment.

Critics, however, note that those investments were made by another company, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer bought Wyeth in 2009, along with the rights to the vaccine.

KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles