IDSA offers policy Rx for influenza vaccine shortage

In the midst of the current national shortage of influenza vaccine, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) today renewed its call for Congress and the Administration to implement innovative public policy geared toward removing financial disincentives that have caused pharmaceutical companies to leave the vaccine market.

"Infectious disease physicians in hospitals and communities across America are grappling with thorny questions about how to ration this year's vaccine among patients who are at highest risk for complications of flu," said Walter E. Stamm, MD, IDSA president. "We are dealing with the consequences for the short term, but we need to think about innovative, long-term policy solutions."

One possible vehicle for addressing the problem is legislation commonly called "Bioshield II," which would build on "The Project Bioshield Act," (Bioshield I), which was signed into law in July 2004. Bioshield I is intended to stimulate the development of treatments, preventatives, and diagnostics related to bioterrorism preparedness and response. IDSA has consistently urged Congress to extend the scope of both Bioshield I and II beyond bioterrorism to include research and development of vaccines and antibiotics to prevent and treat naturally occurring infections.

"Whether we're talking about vaccines to prevent diseases such as the flu or antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, the infectious diseases market is simply not as attractive to manufacturers as is the market for chronic diseases, like diabetes or high cholesterol, where patients take a drug for life," said Andrew T. Pavia, MD, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and chair of IDSA's Pandemic Influenza Task Force.

As compared with a blockbuster drug, many vaccines are used only once or twice in a person's lifetime, or once a year in the case of influenza. But even though the infectious diseases market is relativel

Contact: Diana Olson
Infectious Diseases Society of America

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