Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vaccine Manufacturers' Interactions with State Immunization Programs: Partners or Adversaries?

Sarah J. Clark, Anne E. Cowan, and Gary L. Freed. Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit, University of Michigan, University of Michigan, 300 North Ingalls room 6E06, Ann Arbor, MI, MI, USA

Learning Objectives for this Presentation:
By the end of the presentation participants will be able to describe positive and negative examples of vaccine manufacturers' interactions with state immunization programs.

State immunization programs are responsible for a broad array of programmatic and policy areas. It is unclear the extent to which vaccine manufacturers interact with state immunization programs to achieve programmatic and policy goals.

To understand the nature and influence of vaccine manufacturers' interactions with state immunization programs.

We conducted structured telephone interviews with immunization program managers, medical directors, and/or other key immunization staff. Specific questions explored the extent to which vaccine manufacturers were involved with programmatic efforts, policy initiatives, and other aspects of state immunization programs.

State immunization officials described positive contributions from some vaccine manufacturers, including funding provider education sessions, providing reminder/recall cards for practices to use, and conducting routine office visits by product representatives to private providers to educate them about vaccine administration and storage. A few states found it helpful that product representatives were encouraging immunization delivery of newly recommended adolescent vaccines by non-traditional providers. In addition, several states mentioned that manufacturers provided assistance in dealing with potential state legislation related to thimerosal. These types of activities were viewed as positive and helpful. Conversely, several state officials described interactions they viewed negatively, including situations where manufacturers lobbied directly to legislators for new vaccine requirements rather than working through/with the immunization program; this type of activity caused a sense of distrust among program officials. A handful of states have implemented policies restricting the amount and type of contact from vaccine manufacturer representatives.

Interactions between vaccine manufacturers and state immunization programs are neither entirely positive nor entirely negative. Further investigation is needed to determine if policies restricting contact yield a more positive relationship.