November 23, 2009
High Cost of ProtectionShould the government pay for a Rs 3,000 immunisation vaccine?
Cost per dose is rising…
The most expensive vaccine presently in the immunisation programme is for Hepatitis-B at Rs 50 per dose
Should a state where the healthcare budget is perpetually in strain spend Rs 33,000 on every girl for a vaccine that’s not guaranteed to protect against cervical cancer? This question is at the heart of the debate over two trial introductions of the Gardasil vaccine in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat in July and August respectively this year. Since the intent of these trials is to develop a strategy to include Gardasil in the universal immunisation programme (UIP), worried healthcare activists wrote to the ministry of health & family welfare last month urging an immediate halt to such a move.
The project is being conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with PATH, an international health group. The results of the trials will be examined later by a national technical advisory team before any decision is taken on large-scale administration of the vaccine, including through the UIP. “It should also help manufacturers assess market opportunities better and, we believe, lead them to lower pricing decisions than they would otherwise make,” says Martha Jacob, a director at path India.