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EDUCATION AND OUTREACH BETTER SOLUTIONS TO CHILDHOOD IMMUNIZATION PROBLEM THAN UNIVERSAL PURCHASE

Connaught Laboratories President Testifies At Congressional Hearing
 /ADVANCE/ WASHINGTON, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The president of Connaught Laboratories, Inc. told Members of Congress at a hearing today that he applauds the Administration's efforts to improve education, outreach and tracking programs, all of which have demonstrated that they help improve immunization rates.
 David J. Williams, president and chief operating officer of the Swiftwater, Pennsylvania-based company that is the only provider of childhood vaccines devoted solely to vaccines and biologicals, said that the United States has an excellent record in achieving full immunization by school entry and that, "having proven that it can be done by age five, we need to use these same resources to immunize our children by age two."
 However, Williams said that spending $1 billion a year to buy the nation's entire vaccine supply and distribute it without charge to all children, regardless of economic status, would not fix the problem of poor immunization rates in young children.
 "The solutions proposed are upside down. Most of the funding is directed towards universal purchase, which will do little to improve immunization rates. Universal purchase does not equal universal immunization," Williams said.
 Testifying before members of the Subcommittees of House and Commerce and Senate Labor and Human Resources, on the Comprehensive Child Immunization Act of 1993, Williams said that while Connaught supported a tracking system, it would not be fully operational until the next century. He said that the activities that would trigger the largest improvement in immunization rates -- education and infrastructure -- receive the least funding. He urged lawmakers to increase allocations for education, outreach and infrastructure improvements.
 Williams told legislators that nearly all studies on the United States' poor record in childhood immunization indicate that cost and supply of vaccines are not significant barriers to immunization.
 In the eleven states that already have universal purchase programs, many of which have been in place for twenty-five years, immunization rates for children under two have not significantly improved, Williams said. He added the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention data show that a sufficient supply of vaccines are currently purchased by the private and public sectors to fully immunize all children nationwide.
 Since cost is not a major barrier, the focus on pricing by universal purchase advocates has clouded the issue, he continued. Comparisons of vaccine prices to the Consumer Price Index neglect to factor in:
 -- the impact of increased regulations from the FDA, OSHA and EPA. For example, Connaught's DTP has experienced a nearly 500 percent increase in manufacturing and compliance costs over the past decade.
 -- products liability insurance, which over the same period has soared, with deductibles rising by 2,000 percent and premiums jumping by 750 percent.
 -- the addition of two new vaccines to the schedule (hepatitis b and Haemophilus influenzae type b) and a federal excise tax placed on each dose of certain vaccines to fund the national Vaccine Compensation Program, both of which account for 80 percent of the price increases of childhood vaccines.
 In addition, Williams told the Committees that the bill would threaten research and would hurt companies like Connaught, which focuses primarily on vaccines, in the process.
 "We hope that Members of these Committees will look beyond universal purchase towards legislation that will spend more on solutions that will fix the problem and cost less. This is the only way to truly achieve the goal, which we all share, of full immunization of every child by two.
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 /NOTE TO EDITOR: David Williams is available for interviews. Please call contacts listed below for arrangements./
 /CONTACT: Linda Mayer of Connaught Laboratories, Inc., 717-839-4446, or Beth Waters of Cooney Waters Group, 212-929-1400, for Connaught Laboratories/


CO: Connaught Laboratories Inc. ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

TM-LD -- NY113 -- 8380 04/20/93 19:18 EDT
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Date:Apr 20, 1993
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