Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Pneumonia drop ups vaccine’s value

Helen Palmer Apr 9, 2007
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Pneumonia drop ups vaccine’s value

Helen Palmer Apr 9, 2007
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The vaccine Prevnar has been controversial because of its high cost, but pediatricians have embraced it because it prevents deadly diseases like meningitis. Now a recent study in the journal Lancet shows it also cuts pneumonia cases in kids and adults. From the Health Desk at WGBH, Helen Palmer has more.


HELEN PALMER: Prevnar earns drug maker Wyeth $1.5 billion a year. No surprise, says Marie Griffin of Vanderbilt University.

MARIE GRIFFIN: Children need to get four doses of the vaccine, and each dose costs about $60.

Griffin, a professor of preventive medicine, found 39 percent fewer children were hospitalized after the vaccine was introduced in 2000.

GRIFFIN: That translates into about 41,000 fewer pneumonia admissions in 2004.

Government figures peg the cost for a child’s hospital stay for pneumonia at nearly $12,000 — so the vaccine saves nearly half a billion a year. Of course, vaccinating all those kids costs nearly three-quarters of a billion, but Prevnar also prevents deadly infections.

Kaiser Permanente’s Thomas Ray studied what that was worth.

THOMAS RAY: There’s a life a year saved for every $7,500 that you spend.

Ray says fewer pneumonia infections make this vaccine look even more cost-effective.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.