Sunday, October 17, 2004

The politics of flu

John Kerry has released a new ad claiming the Bush Administration is responsible for the flu vaccine shortage:

Seeking political gain from the vaccine shortage, Kerry's campaign released a television ad that says Bush "failed to fix the problem."

"Millions of Americans won't get their flu shots, including seniors and children," Kerry said while also blasting Bush on joblessness. "We've got people standing in line for hours on end, some of them in their 70s and 80s, hoping to be among the lucky ones to get it."

A Bush spokesman accused Kerry of hypocrisy for criticizing the president after voting against a measure that would protect vaccine manufacturers from punitive damages.

What is most perverse about this crass attempt to make political hay out of noxious weeds is that it is the actions of Democrats which have actually caused the current problems.

Liability insurance costs, having risen to the extent of eradicating profits on flu vaccine, have reduced the number of companies producing the vaccine from 25 thirty years ago to only two, both foreign, today.

Additionally, the 1993 Clinton plan to provide childhood vaccines "for free" caused many companies to get out of the vaccine-producing business. By capping prices without regard to costs, in order to "save" money on the program, Clinton forced several companies out of the market. His further restrictions on a key component, without any evidence of harm, reduced the field of producers even more.

Welcome to Democratic health care. If it comes soon to a hospital near you, don't say you were not forewarned.


Blogger Oscar said...

The truth is the FDA knew about the flu shot shortage since August. Since this was convention season, Bush did nothing.

You say that when Clinton put a cap on the poor pharmaceudical companies' prices it forced the companies to get out of the flu business but the vaccines from both UK and Canada are under this cap. This seems to me like globalization at its best which only an un-american commie would be against.

You also don't mention the irony in Bush looking to Canada for flu shots but is against other canadian drugs.

October 17, 2004 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Adjoran said...

What was he to do? Go down to the lab in the White House basement and brew up his own vaccine?

FDA rules constrain the number of companies who can submit viruses. Most companies cannot afford the approval process.

We are looking to Canada in an emergency, and suspending the normal rules. Should the normal rules be more relaxed?

Clinton capped the prices for childhood vaccines. This cut the profits for companies who make multiple vaccines, which must be made up in the uncapped lines. Since the market forces prohibited more markup in other vaccines, many companies got out of the business.

In 1974 there were 25 companies producing flu vaccine for the American market. By 1993 there were still 12 vaccine makers.

The blame must be spread around, it is true: part belongs to liability costs, part to price caps and their effect on vaccine producers, part on the difficult FDA rules for approval of vaccines.

All, however, can be traced to Democratic initiatives or interest groups. You must be so proud!

October 19, 2004 at 4:38 AM  

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