CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Four infant vaccines. One injection. How much will the industry charge? How much is a parent willing to pay? How much will government and insurance cover? Such issues are becoming real, says a University of Illinois researcher who has developed a mathematically based analysis tool to help pinpoint acceptable pricing.
If you look around the world right now, combination vaccines are being used in Canada and Europe with tremendous success, said Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the UI College of Engineering. We initially analyzed the value of four particular combination vaccines, but our tool is really applicable to any combination, and there are several now on the horizon of reaching the FDA for approval. Such approval is going to happen.
With National Infant Immunization Week being April 14-20 in the United States, many parents and children may be more concerned about painful memories of injections than about the benefits gained by childhood immunizations, Jacobson said.
His analysis tool incorporates a Monte Carlo simulation and an integer programming model, allowing researchers to study the various relationships of vaccine costs and any number of individual factors, including individual and societal benefits. The tool described in the April issue of Health Care Management Science computes an optimum price for a combination vaccine to meet a manufacturers targeted market share.
Primary concerns for parents, Jacobson said, are the costs of injections, the number required per office visit and the pain associated with each injection. Many parents, fearing that four recommended shots at one visit are too many, choose to get two for their child at one office visit and return later, but they dont follow through. Non-compliance can lead to a resurgence of the very diseases the immunizations protect against.