NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 22, 2004

John Kerry blames President Bush for the flu shortage, claiming the president could have solved the problem -- a result of having only two flu manufacturers -- three years ago. But Kerry supported programs that created the crisis as he defines it. And the policies he supports -- including price controls, bulk government purchase of medicines and drug importation -- are exactly the policies that have pushed the vaccine industry to the brink of extinction, says Robert Goldberg (Manhattan Institute).

Ironically, Kerry had his own plan to promote AIDS and malaria vaccine development: the Vaccines for the New Millennium Act. According to a press release at the time: The Kerry plan "provides tax incentives for vaccine R&D, [and] creates market mechanisms for the purchase and distribution of vaccines in developing countries."

Kerry seems to believe that new vaccines need real markets and market prices in the Third World, but not in America. He supported the Clinton Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program in 1994:

  • VFC was designed to buy up all vaccines for kids in America but was scaled back to purchase 65 percent of all childhood shots at government-set prices.
  • Prices were fixed for nearly a decade; government purchases of flu shots at low prices expanded as well.
  • Meanwhile, the cost of producing existing vaccines and investing in next-generation shots began to climb.

Two years ago, the Institute of Medicine sent Congress a report asserting that the vaccine industry needed higher prices and protection from frivolous lawsuits in order to get more companies to make vaccines. The president has lifted price caps in the VFC program and fought to reduce the number of questionable cases against vaccine companies, particularly those based on junk science. Both Sen. John Edwards and Kerry opposed any liability protection for vaccine firms.

Source: Robert Goldberg, "Kerry's toxic drug plan," Washington Times, October 22, 2004.


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