Vaccines are among the greatest triumphs of medical science over illness and disease in the past half-century. In the United States, vaccine use has virtually eradicated smallpox and polio and has drastically reduced the incidence of the dangerous—and formerly common—childhood illnesses measles, mumps and rubella.
Despite these strides, market forces and policy dilemmas have created significant barriers to the development and distribution of vaccines both domestically and globally, resulting in dwindling numbers of manufacturers, particularly in the United States. Insufficient stockpiles of existing vaccines have left Americans vulnerable to naturally occurring pandemics and bioterrorist attacks. In the developing world, failure to develop vaccines for HIV and malaria will cost 4 million lives a year. Polio and smallpox, nearly eradicated for many decades in the West, are remerging in parts of the developing world.
What can be done to increase the number of manufacturers participating in the vaccine market? What additional incentives can be given to manufacturers to develop vaccines for HIV, malaria and other new and emerging threats? Should the government guarantee in advance that it will purchase vaccines for developing countries and, if so, how should this be done? What can be done to mitigate the risk of liability? How does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program compensate injured vaccine recipients?
To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and Health Affairs journal cosponsored a May 23 luncheon briefing in conjuction with the release of the May – June issue of Health Affairs on vaccine issues. Panelists, who were among the contributing authors for this issue, were: John Hurvitz, partner, Covington and Burling and author of a Health Affairs article on advance purchase of vaccines for the developing world; Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Walter Orenstein, director of Emory University’s Program for Vaccine Policy and Development. The Alliance’s Ed Howard moderated. A copy of the Health Affairs issue was available to all attending.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)