Saturday, October 16, 2004

Flu Vaccines

This is fascinating. From Rush Limbaugh via RWN:

Do you remember something called the Clinton Government Vaccine Buying Program? It was sold to us as a way to get prices down and get more children vaccinated and, of course, to keep the evil drug companies from making a profit. The Wall Street Journal says today, "Companies that decided to run these regulatory traps also know that they'll be doing so for very little reward. Before her big health care reform crashed and burned in '94, Hillary Rodham Rodham managed to get Congress to pass a government vaccine buying program for children. Her sales pitch was free vaccines for all kids and higher immunization rates. If we would give this stuff away, she said, more children would be immunized." Oh, goody, wonderful, wonderful. Thus, as a result of Hillary's plan, the government now purchases about 60% of all pediatric vaccines, forcing huge discounts and imposing price caps. The manufacturers were told, ''You can only make so much profit, and you're gonna make this amount, and we're gonna give it away.''

What all this did was screw up the whole private sector mechanism of manufacturing and distributing vaccines. In 2001, the private sector cost of immunizing children with the 20 recommended doses of vaccines was $600 per child. The government price was just $400 per child, with the vaccine makers swallowing the difference. What has this achieved? Vaccination rates for two-year-olds have stagnated at about 74% for the past several years while adult rates are significantly lower, and with the profit margin squeeze to practically zero, some manufacturers have simply said, "We're not making the stuff anymore. It doesn't make sense. We've got this government program that tells us the maximum we can charge, regardless what it costs to make, we're going to be threatened with lawsuits the first time somebody gets sick for whatever vaccine. Screw it!"

And that's why American companies are out of the business and why we have to import vaccines from Great Britain, a combination of Hillary's plan that put a cap on profits, put a cap on prices, and nothing to do with the manufacture price. You combine that with the fact that these manufacturers are subject to constant lawsuits and they said, "Screw it. We're not going to make the stuff anymore," and that's why there is a shortage. This can be traced back to Hillary Clinton's great sounding, compassionate idea, to make sure that every child had a flu shot and every child had a vaccination against various childhood diseases. Well, the fact is only 74% of kids do because there's not enough vaccine. This is not the first real shortage, but because American manufacturers have thrown up their hands and said, "It makes no sense. We are in business, and we don't give things away, and we're certainly not going to take a loss on this."

So they just simply got out of the business. In addition to that, one of the companies that remained and stayed in business was a company called Chiron. They're being sued left and right over financial problems that have nothing to do with the quality of their vaccine. I'm not going to detail what those problems are because it's not relevant, but they're being targeted now. So that's another manufacturer that has put up their hands and said, "Whoa, it isn't worth all this," and so that's why we have to import from Britain, and, lo and behold, they had a company that ended up with their flu vaccines contaminated. Half the supply had to be dumped and this is where we are. We have "outsourced" flu vaccines, essentially, to use a John Kerry word because of Mrs. Clinton's great-sounding program -- remember the name -- the government vaccine buying program."