The government has rejected proposals to lower its spending benchmark on vaccines based on their cost-effectiveness, after concerns were raised about how it would “detrimentally impact” public health.
In its final response to a consultation on changes to the cost-effectiveness methodology for vaccination programmes, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said lowering the cost-effectiveness threshold from £20,000 to £15,000 “would impose a more stringent cost-effectiveness bar for immunisation programmes and a deviation from the approach currently taken for medicines”.
Lowering the threshold, which is calculated per quality-adjusted life year, would have meant vaccinations that cost more than £15,000 per extra year of life in good health would have been less likely to be approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation than those that cost less.
The lower £15,000 threshold was first recommended in February 2018 by the ‘Cost-effectiveness methodology for immunisation programmes and procurement’ group, which was set up by the DHSC to consider whether the method for appraising the cost-effectiveness of vaccination programmes should change.
However, some responses to the four-month consultation, which closed in June 2018 — particularly those from charities — argued that lowering the threshold would place “too strict a barrier to vaccinations becoming approved”, and therefore “could detrimentally impact vaccines and public health”.
Other responses said lowering the threshold “could lead to decreased funding for immunisation and, therefore, the potential to increase health inequalities”.
Hugo Fry, vice president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “We’re pleased to see the UK government’s ongoing commitment to prevention and public health.
“It is important that we continue to prioritise and invest in our world-leading vaccination programme to help protect the health of people across the UK and relieve pressure on the NHS.”