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Flu vaccine price gouging reported

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WASHINGTON, Oct 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and other federal officials are being urged to take action to end price gouging for flu vaccine.

"I was disturbed to hear from a Kansan seeking to provide the flu vaccine to residents of a nursing home that the distributor tripled the cost of the vaccine in a matter of a few hours," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., wrote in a letter to Thompson.

Roberts said his office began to get calls about price increases for flu vaccine Wednesday after the government said Chiron Corp., would not be able to supply vaccine to the United States because of bacterial contamination at a plant in Liverpool, England. Chiron was expected to provide half the U.S. flu vaccine, 46 million to 48 million doses.

Public health officials are urging healthy people to forgo flu shots to ensure that high-risk individuals, young children, the elderly and the chronically ill, get the vaccine.

Roberts sent copies of his letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Trade Commission.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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