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Pentavalent Vaccine IJMR 2011q

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Pentavalent and other New Combination Vaccines: Solutions in Search of Problems

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Pentavalent Vaccine IJMR 2011q

  1. 1. Pentavalent and other New Combination Vaccines: Solutions in Search of Problems Y. Madhavi & N. Raghuram1This reprinted article is unedited version published in the Indian Journal of MedicalResearch (IJMR), Oct 2010, 132:15-16.The pentavalent vaccine and many other combination vaccines waiting to enter Universalimmunization Programme (UIP) have brought into sharp focus the gaping gap betweenlofty slogans of ‘evidence based medicine’ and the actual dynamics that drive policy onthe ground1-4. Notwithstanding the theatrics of the ‘experts’ of the World HealthOrganization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)globally and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) here inIndia, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the pentavalent vaccine, like many otherrecent combination vaccines, is a solution searching for problems.Whither Evidence-Based Medicine?The fact of the matter is that there is no scientifically valid evidence of a high enoughdisease burden due to Influenzae type b (Hib) or Hepatitis-B (HepB) that justifiesuniversal vaccination in India5-7. Indeed, every attempt to find such evidence for HiB inIndia and elsewhere in Asia has failed4. In the absence of evidence for individualvaccines, it defies logic how one can justify combining them into a pentavalent vaccine.It also begs the question as to whether the industry made these combination vaccines inresponse to specific public health demands, if so who articulated them and with whatevidence from which countries. It seems that there was no need for any such evidence, aslong as ‘expert’ recommendations behind closed doors were unquestioningly accepted byall concerned. Unfortunately, increasing awareness and rising dissent against medicines-sans-evidence is forcing the policy makers to find post-facto evidence that is becomingincreasingly difficult to manufacture. By now, it is obvious to all concerned, except to thedetermined ‘experts’ who drive our immunization policies, that there has never reallybeen a real public health demand for many of these new vaccines, let alone theircombinations.1 National Institute of Science,Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), New Delhi & School ofBiotechnology, Indraprastha University, Delhi, respectively. For correspondence<y_madhavi01@hotmail.com>
  2. 2. Marketing Tricks or Innovations for Health?Indeed, combination vaccines were invented precisely to overcome the poor penetrationof the individual vaccines in the global market, as well as to overcome the expiry of theirpatents and establish eternal market monopolies. Scientific evidences indicate thatcombination vaccines bring no new health benefit to the immunized people8-11, except theconvenience of not having to take each vaccine separately, provided all those vaccinesare actually needed. The issue of safety and efficacy of combination vaccines were oftencause for concern12. For instance, MMR in combination with Varicella vaccine reportedto have enhanced febrile seizures in children13-14, and Hepatitis A vaccine is notprotective enough when combined with typhoid vaccine15. It is a marketing trick, whichis no more scientific than the logic behind the bundling of Television channels or onlinejournals. Just as many not-so-popular channels or journals need a piggy back ride on apopular channel or a journal in a bundle, every dubious new vaccine needs a DiphtheriaTetanus Pertussis (DTP), measles or some other essential vaccine to get a back door entryinto the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)16. Pushing Hib,Hep-B , MumpsMeasles Rubella (MMR), rotaviral, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), etc throughcombination vaccines among people who dont need them (using UIP vaccines aspiggybacks) is no better than beaming religious channels using news channels aspiggybacks.It is also obvious why our ideologues of out-of-pocket financing of the increasinglyprivatized health industry suddenly need centralized government procurement of vaccinesand are no longer content with doctoring customer ‘choice’. The sustainability of global(read Multinational Company) vaccine industry depends on adoption of new vaccinesinto the national immunization of large countries like India17-18, because the presentprices make them unaffordable even in relatively affluent country markets. A morehonest and straightforward way would be to recommend Indian government aid tosupport vaccination of needy children in such countries, rather than giving Indianchildren unnecessary vaccines to bring down global prices. But it is hard for the rich toaccept donations from the poor, when they are so used to robbing them in benevolentstyle. So much for equity!Equity for Health or Market?Why is it that ‘equity’ argument is often given only when it comes to governmentspending on vaccines? Why not for all other health care services or other basic amenitiessuch as food, shelter, water and clean environment, which are ruled by market forces?Why are health concerns so muted when it comes to OPV induced paralytic cases? Is the
  3. 3. government. or NTAGI willing to take responsibility and compensate for vaccine inducedparalytic cases? Why don’t we have proper vaccine injury compensation in this country?Why should our immunization experts enjoy so much immunity from the unhealthyconsequences of their advice for health? In any case, the hollowness of the ‘equity’argument becomes obvious when we consider that the total coverage of ‘universal’immunization is below 50% of the children in India, even for the most essential andaffordable vaccines. If you don’t have bread, eat cake!Public Sector Abuse for Medicine sans Evidence?Another side of the equity argument is that manufacturing these combination vaccines inpublic sector units (PSUs) would bring down their prices and make them more affordableto all. This would have been a welcome move (lest we too be branded as anti-vaccine),provided the public health need for these new vaccines is firmly established.Unfortunately, even well meaning minds in the government committed to reviving thecrucial role of PSUs in Indian vaccine security seem to be lost in supply side argumentswithout firmly establishing the demand for these vaccines based on disease burden. Thisis inspite of having all the human, financial and technological resources to documentdisease burden scientifically. This is the fundamental tragedy of medicine-sans-evidencepolicy that rules in Indian vaccines.References 1. Kimman TG, Boot HJ, Berbers Guy AM, Vermeer-de Bondt PE, G Ardine de Wit, and Hester E de MelKer. Developing a vaccination Evaluation model to support evidence-based decision making on national immunization programs, Vaccine, 2006, 24(22): 4769-4778. 2. Madhavi Y., Puliyel J.M., Mathew J.L, Raghuram, N., Phadke, A., Shiva, M., Srinivasan, S., Paul, Y., Srivastava, R.N., Parthasarathy, A., Gupta, S., Ranga, U., Vijayalakshmi V., Joshi, N., Nath, I., Gulhati, C.M., Chatterjee, P., Jain, A., Priya, R., Dasgupta, R., Sridhar, S., Dabade, D., Gopakumar, K.M., Abrol, D., Santhosh, M.R., Srivastava, S., Visalakshi, S., Bhargava A., Sarojini, N.B., Sehgal, D., Selvaraj, S., Banerji, D. (2010) Evidence-based national vaccine policy, Indian J Med Res, May 2010,131: 617-628. 3. Mudur G. ‘Antivaccine lobby resists introduction of Hib vaccine in India, BMJ 2010; 340: c3508 4. Lone Z and Puliyel J. ‘Introducing pentavalent vaccines in the EPI in India: A counsel for caution, Ind J Med Res, 2010, 132: 1-3. 5. Gupta N, Puliyel J. vaccine Introduction where incidence of Hib meningitis is 0,007%. Deision- making based on heath economics or ideology, Ind J Med Res, 2009, 129: 339-40. 6. Beri, R. S. and Ojha R K. Is Hib vaccination required at all in India? Ind Pediat, 2002, 39: 1067– 1068. 7. Madhavi Y The Manufacture of consent? Hepatitis B vaccination, A special article, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), 2003, 38 (24): 2417-2424. 8. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Guidance for Industry for the Evaluation of Combination Vaccines for Preventable Diseases: Production, Testing and Clinical Studies. Washington DC: US
  4. 4. Dept of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, April 1997, Docket No. 97N-0029.9. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Combination Vaccines for Childhood Immunization: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Committee on Infectious Diseases, 1998-1999. Pediatr, 1999, 103: 1064–1077.10. Bar-On ES, Goldberg E, Fraser A, Vidal L, Hellmann S, Leibovici L. Combined DTP-HBV-HIB vaccine versus separately administered DTP-HBV and HIB vaccines for primary prevention of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae B (HIB) (Review), The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 3, p.1-57.11. Buttery JP, Anna R, McVernon J, Chantler T, Lane L, Jane Bowen-Morris J, Diggle L, Morris R, Harnden A, Lockhart S, Pollard AJ, Cartwright K, Moxon ER. Immunogenicity and Safety of a Combination Pneumococcal-Meningococcal Vaccine in Infants, JAMA, 2005, 293:1751-1758.12. Chen R T, Vitali Pool V, Takahashi H, Bruce G. Weniger and Patel B. Combination vaccines: post licensuer safety evaluation, Clin infect dis, Dec 15, 2001), 33: s327-s333.13. White C. Jo, Stinson D, Staehle B, Cho Iksung, Matthews H, Ngai A, Keller P, Eiden J, Kuter B and The MMRV Vaccine Study Group. Measles, mums, rubella, and varicella combination vaccine: safety and immunogenecity alone and in combination with other vaccines given to children. Clinical Infect Dis J 1997; 24: 925-31.14. Klein NP, Fireman B, Katherine W Yih, Lewis E, Kulldorff M, Ray P, Baxter R, Hambidge S, Nordin J, Naleway A, Belongia EA, Lieu T, Baggs J and Weintraub E. Measles-Mumps-Rubella- Varicella Combination Vaccine and the Risk of Febrile Seizures, Pediatr, July 2010; 126(1): e1-8.15. Beeching NJ, Clarke PD, Kitchin NRE, Pirmohamed J, Veitch K and Weber F. Comparison of two combined vaccines against typhoid fever and hepatitis A in healthy adults. Vaccine, 2004, 23 (1): 29-35.16. Madhavi Y. New combination vaccines: Backdoor entry into India’s Universal Immunization Programme? Cur Sci, 2006; 90 : 1465-9.17. Nossal G. Living up to the legacy Nature Med May;4(5 Suppl):475-6.18. Sharma S. Immunisation boost as vaccine price falls, Nov 2009, Hindusthan Times, Daily newspaper, New Delhi.( http://www.hindustantimes.com/Immunisation-boost-as-vaccine-price- falls/Article1-477888.aspx) (Accessed on 2nd Aug 2010)

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