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Conn. Clinics Report Price Gouging Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 8:15 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Blumenthal, Vaccine, Seasonal Flu, AstraZeneca, CSL, MedImmune, GSK, Sanofi-Aventis

Clinics report vaccine makers are price gouging in favor of retail giants the seasonal flu vaccine.


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockPhoto/ flu vaccine given/Millanovic

Price Gouging?

It appears to be happening in Connecticut.

The top prosecutors office is probing price fixing complaints that seasonal flu vaccine is being sold for $100 for a shot that can cost as little as $7.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says his office has been receiving reports that the distributors and makers of the seasonal flu vaccine are reneging on agreements and selling the shot for many times the regular price, partially because the seasonal flu vaccine (SFV) is in short supply.

The reports are coming in from doctors, nurses and health care providers who fear that the elderly and the sick will be most impacted.

Blumenthal’s office has written to 13 manufacturers and distributors requesting information on price, supply levels, and distribution of the supply.

The letters went to GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) AstraZeneca Plc (AZN), Sanofi-Aventis (SASY), and CSL Limited ( CSL) of Australia, as well as nine distributors, including ABO Pharmaceuticals.

"Be advised that I will aggressively pursue enforcement action against any company or individual that is taking advantage of the current SFV shortage to engage in price gouging or other unethical and abusive business practices to the detriment of Connecticut healthcare providers and their families," Blumenthal wrote in that letter, reports Reuters.

Blumenthal said he will seek fines from the offending companies if he can show they are “skewing” the market toward large drugstore chains, offering them better prices to get more people into giant retailers over a health clinic or hospital.

In September his office began investigating why Visiting Nurse Associations received disproportionately lower supplies of seasonal flu vaccine over a major vaccine supplier.

A spokeswoman for one of the firms, MedImmune Vaccines of Gaithersburg, Md., said the company's prices for seasonal flu vaccine "have not changed at any time during this season” reports the Hartford Courant.

The swine flu vaccine has taken center stage with demand and distribution. #

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