Companies Boosting Prices for Precious Supply of Flu Vaccine
Pharmacy directors at several hospitals across the country are "frustrated" about the daily calls and faxes they are receiving from small distributing companies offering to sell them vials of the flu vaccine for as much as five times the normal price, the New York Times reports. The hospitals report that while they normally pay $20 to $30 for a 10-dose vial of the vaccine, the distributors are demanding up to $150 a vial, forcing hospitals to either absorb the extra costs or pass them on to consumers. Hospitals normally purchase the bulk of their drugs from large national wholesalers, and are wary about buying drugs from small companies they "know very little about." Douglas Scheckelhoff, director of pharmacy at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., calls the situation an "ethical dilemma": "Do you spend great resources on a product that you don't know where it is coming from when you have patients with a great need?" Hospital pharmacy directors are also curious about why the small drug distributors have already obtained the vaccine when the current shortage has forced hospitals and clinics across the country to delay vaccinations. Joseph Deffenbaugh, a professional practice associate at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said, "I hear in people's voices a fair amount of desperation. Influenza vaccine iThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.