Meningococcal B Vaccine Rejected From PBS

By Sharon Smith
Monday, 24 August, 2015

The vaccine, which is currently recommended for infants at six weeks old plus two boosters, and 12 months old, and again at 15-19 years can cost up to $500 for a full dose including boosters. The government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has again rejected subsidising the vaccine on the PBS despite leaders in the field calling for the vaccine for the disease to be accessble to Australian families at a low price.

Professor Robert Booy is an infectious diseases and immunisation expert at the Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, University of Sydney and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

“It is disappointing that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has again not recommended adding this important vaccine to the PBS. The UK has recommended adding it to the NHS and is rolling it out from next week, so whatever reservations the PBAC has, they are not shared globally.

The UK has also managed to negotiate a low price for this vaccine from the manufacturers and we may be able to use this in the future to get a better price locally as well.

I believe the PBAC underestimate the impact of this disease, using ‘discounting rates’ to determine cost effectiveness in a way that underestimates the disease in terms of disability.

I also believe the long term impact of this disease has been underestimated. I am treating patients who are still experiencing health impacts from meningococcal B more than 10 years down the line.

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