Disease Proof

Trashing the Flu Shot

Oh no, those poor pharmaceutical companies. Since we had a “mild flu season” millions of expiring flu shots are set to be destroyed. The good news is they don’t expire until June 30th. That means there’s plenty of time for the media to over-hype a new Bird Flu scare. More from Marilynn Marchione and Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press:
Millions of doses of flu vaccine will expire at midnight June 30, unsold during this year's mild flu season and written off as trash. Still perfectly good, and possibly useful for a few more years, the vaccine will wind up being destroyed. This annual ritual is supposed to ensure that Americans get the most up-to-date vaccine, but the leftovers -- more than 10 million of a record 110 million doses produced -- will be destroyed before a new supply is guaranteed.

An Associated Press examination of this long-standing practice raises questions about its consequences. For years, policymakers have talked about letting doctors keep unused vaccine until new doses are in hand, donating leftover supplies to poor countries, or pushing back the expiration date. Wasted vaccine means lost money for drug companies and one stopped making flu shots because of it -- setting the stage for a flu shot shortage in 2004.
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