Saturday, October 23, 2004

Vaccine Shortage is a Bad Omen

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:31 PM |  

Thanks to reader Brooks Butler for passing along this article from the Heartland Institute website. Author and Senior Fellow at Heartland Conrad Meier makes several points about the flu vaccine shortage.

1. This is not the first time the United States has experienced shortages, just the most dramatic. Shortages are made worse by the government’s policy change from at-risk vaccination to a recommendation of universal vaccination, despite predictable shortages.

2. He quotes legal expert Peter Huber that 50 to 80 percent of the cost of most vaccines is liability insurance and cites that as a major reason only three U.S. companies remain in the flu vaccine business.

3. The shortage of flue vaccine is a legitimate crisis. There are only 52 million needle doses available for an “at risk” population of 185 million. That does not include non-risk demand fostered by previous government recommendations.

4. Production lead times mean there’s no way to play catch-up for the current flu season.

Meir’s conclusion is inevitable.
“What has now become an unacceptable pattern of repeated gross mismanagement raises serious questions whether the federal health care bureaucracy (HHS, CMS, FDA, and smaller agencies) can administer the size and magnitude of a national health care plan any better than it can administer the national vaccination program.This observer suggests it cannot because it has not.”
This Monday, Oct. 25, the St. Paul Pioneer Press Opinion Page will run my column “Flu vaccine shortage symptomatic of ailing system,” which supports Meir’s conclusion, specifically as regards calls by presidential candidate John Kerry and Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.

A linked version will be posted on this site Sunday evening/Monday morning.

Thanks again to Brooks Butler for pointing out this article.