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CONNAUGHT LABORATORIES PRESIDENT ON CLINTON IMMUNIZATION PROPOSAL

 SWIFTWATER, Pa., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- David J. Williams, president and chief operating officer of Connaught Laboratories, Inc., Swiftwater, today issued the following statement:
 President Clinton's address today on childhood vaccines unfortunately obscures the real reasons that immunization rates in the United States are less than optimal. While vaccine manufacturers make a convenient target, the facts of our national failure in immunization point to a less simplistic analysis.
 The only profiteers in vaccine pricing have been the lawyers who launched hundreds of product liability lawsuits, which is what has driven up the prices of vaccines over the past decade. Our corporate profit in 1991 was 4.8 percent of sales, significantly less than that of the Fortune 500 companies that President Clinton cited in his speech.
 For example, in 1992, $4.56 of the $5.98 price for each dose of DTP vaccine purchased by the public sector was collected by the government for liability. In fact, the manufacturer's price per dose of DTP vaccine has dropped. In 1985, each dose purchased by the public sector was $2.21. Today, excluding the excise tax, it is $1.72. In the private sector, the price also has gone down, from a high of $11.23 per dose in 1986 at the height of the liability crisis to the current price of $5.38, exclusive of the excise tax.
 It also appears that the total cost of immunization has been presented out of context. Ten years ago, we had only three vaccines in routine use. Today, we have five vaccines that protect against nine diseases. Thus, it is misleading to compare total cost without also noting that there are additional vaccines involved -- 45 percent more than we had a decade ago.
 Connaught Laboratories is devoted solely to developing, producing and/or distributing nearly all routinely used childhood vaccines for both public and private sectors. We believe that every medically needy and economically disadvantaged child should get vaccine at discounted prices. Connaught has formally made this offer to states across the country and continues to stand by it. The medically needy include:
 -- children eligible for Medicaid
 -- children whose families have no health insurance
 -- children whose families' insurance does not cover immunizations, as most private plans don't, and who cannot afford the out-of-pocket cost.
 There are several models that can be used to insure that those children not only receive vaccines but get into regular medical care:
 1. require third-party health insurers to reimburse for well-baby care, including immunizations, the case now in Pennsylvania
 2. contract with managed care/health maintenance organizations to serve medically needy families
 3. provide Medicaid-priced vaccine to private physicians for their Medicaid-eligible or medically needy patients, as Connaught is currently doing in pilot vaccine replacement programs in two states
 If we are to distribute vaccine free to everyone, whether rich or poor, it would drive up the cost of immunization to the federal government. It doesn't make any sense to increase spending on buying a product that is in abundant supply when that money could be better used in eliminating the barriers that obstruct access. We concur with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, a leading advocate for immunization, who said in a recently published column that "the Clinton administration's proposal that the federal government purchase vaccines for all children is a little like a doctor treating the symptoms without trying to cure the disease...the real problem is inadequate public education and access to, not availability of, vaccines."
 Until today Connaught had not been approached by the Administration for any positions or information on the supply or pricing of childhood vaccines. However, we are anxious to bring our expertise to help forge a solution to the enormous problem of poor immunization rates. With 110 percent of the needed vaccines already in the system, the problem is obviously not one of availability. We need to get the children to vaccines and vaccines to children. To that end, we also need to concentrate on streamlining Medicaid procedures, providing reasonable reimbursements to private physicians in order to attract their participation, and educating a population that, unaffected by mass epidemics, has grown complacent about routine immunization.
 /end of statement/
 -0- 2/12/93
 /CONTACT: Linda Mayer of Connaught, 201-984-1069, or after Feb. 16, 717-839-4446; or Beth Waters of Cooney/Waters Group, 212-929-1400, or home, 609-896-1389, for Connaught/


CO: Connaught Laboratories, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:

GK-KD -- NY048 -- 6299 02/12/93 16:46 EST
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Date:Feb 12, 1993
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