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Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2012 Aug;8(8):1066-70. doi: 10.4161/hv.20506. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

Size of clinical trials and Introductory prices of prophylactic vaccine series.

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  • 1Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit, University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, MI USA.


Costs of completing the recommended immunization schedule have increased over the last decade. Access to prophylactic vaccines may become limited due to financing obstacles within current delivery systems. Vaccine prices reflect research and development expenses incurred by vaccine manufacturers, including costs associated with evaluating candidate vaccines in human subjects. If the number of subjects in clinical trials is increasing over time and associated with vaccine price, this may help explain increases in prices of vaccine series. We examined whether: (A) the initial public- and private-sector prices for recommended prophylactic vaccine series licensed and recommended in the US increased from 2000-2011, (B) the number of human subjects per licensed vaccine increased during the time period, and (C) the number of human subjects was associated with the initial public-and private-sector prices of the vaccine series. In regression analyses of 13 vaccines, approval year was not significantly associated with the number of human subjects, initial public-sector prices, or initial private-sector prices. While the number of phase II subjects was not significantly associated with prices, the numbers of phase III and combined late phase (phases II + III) subjects were significantly associated with initial public- and private-sector series prices (p < 0.05). The association between number of subjects and initial prices demonstrated diminishing marginal increases in price with increasing numbers of subjects. These findings may help guide the number of subjects required by the FDA in clinical trials, in order to reduce expenses for manufacturers and thereby help mitigate increases in initial vaccine series prices.

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