The Formulary Files

Web site provides pediatric vaccine pricing

Deciding which pediatric vaccine to stock can be a difficult one, especially in light of recent FDA approvals of combination vaccines, which adds to the complexity. But there’s a Web-based tool available to help decision makers with their pediatric vaccine formularies —

The decision about which vaccine to stock doesn’t necessarily come down to costs says Sheldon H. Jacobson, PhD, professor in the department of computer science at the University of Illinois.

“Our goal was to help people create pediatric vaccine formularies using a broad set of economic criteria,” says Jacobson.

Recently, the FDA approved Pentacel, a combination vaccine containing diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Older vaccines contain some of these vaccines as well and the problem is that there is a chance for “partially overlapping combination vaccines, such that you cannot use both in a formulary without having a large amount of extra immunization. It’s not economically feasible,” says Jacobson.

Often, formulary decision makers try to create formularies in their head, or they do it in an ad hoc manner. “We can at least offer an objective mechanism that people can use to input the prices they are paying. In fact, the tool can help them negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry to help them reduce cost,” says Jacobson.

MANAGED CARE editorial board member Thomas Kaye, RPh, MBA, reviewed the Web site. He thought the “pricing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be of great interest to health plans, as it could be a reliable resource for another pricing modality.” He agreed that the final decision about which vaccine to stock can’t just come down to cost. “Pricing is complicated — it’s based on practice volume, timing of order placement, and discounts that may or may not develop prior to the vaccine season.”

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