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Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines
Date:4/17/2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive option, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers.

"The choice of vaccines to administer can be driven by numerous factors," says Sheldon H. Jacobson, a co-author of the study and a professor of computer science and of mathematics at the U. of I. "In an environment where vaccines are under growing public scrutiny, no stone should be left unturned in uncovering why one combination vaccine is preferred over another. Such analyses provide information that serve to better inform and advise all stakeholders."

Only two vaccines are available now that immunize against five diseases with a single injection: Pediarix and Pentacel. Both are administered in three doses, and both immunize against polio, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. However, Pediarix immunizes against hepatitis B (HepB) while Pentacel immunizes against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). One or the other but not both can be used as the backbone for the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule stipulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children also must receive either the HepB or Hib shot, depending on which one is missing from their combination vaccine.

"The market will gravitate toward the combination vaccine that provides the best value," said graduate student Banafsheh Behzad, the first author of the study. "From the perspective of a health care provider, the important question to ask is: Which combination vaccine should be used to attain the minimum overall cost, given a fixed cost of an injection?"

In a previous analysis, the researchers found that Pediarix is the most cost-effective combination vaccine. Yet in the public sector, Pentacel's sales have been significantly hig
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Contact: Liz Ahlberg
eahlberg@illinois.edu
217-244-1073
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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