So Pharmaceutical Companies Make a Lot of Money on Vaccines After All
Well, so much for the old line that they would never push unneeded vaccines because they don't make money from them.
Childhood immunizations are so vital to public health that the Affordable Care Act mandates their coverage at no out-of-pocket cost and they are generally required for school entry. Once a loss leader for manufacturers, because they are often more expensive to produce than conventional drugs, vaccines now can be very profitable.
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.
I love the 33 embedded here: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.
It is not clear how much Pfizer is profiting from Prevnar in the United States. But one measure is to look at the price at which Pfizer sells Prevnar for use in the poorest countries through a World Health Organization initiative: $3.30 a dose. Even at those prices, “I do not think pharmaceutical manufacturers are losing money,” said Dr. Hinman, the former C.D.C. official.