Dengue vaccine price soars

PETALING JAYA: The newly-launched dengue vaccine, Qdenga, is being offered at some clinics for over RM500, which is about RM100 higher than the source price.

The Star learnt that the vaccine is sourced at about RM170 to RM190 per dose from the supplier.

Checks on a telemedicine site showed that the vaccination, which requires two doses, is being offered for about RM550.

At this time, the Qdenga vaccine, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical firm Takeda, is only available at private healthcare facilities.

Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia president Dr Shanmuganathan TV Ganeson said the vaccine is not available widely in clinics.

“Demand for the vaccine is not there yet. The vaccine only reduces the severity of the disease and does not prevent transmission.

“I do expect some vaccine hesitancy with this one,” he said.

Health experts said Qdenga must be made accessible to the masses.

Prof Dr Zamberi Sekawi, a consultant clinical microbiologist with Universiti Putra Malaysia said the vaccine should be readily available at a more affordable price as it has proven to be effective.

“The vaccine has been shown to reduce hospitalisation and severe dengue,” he said.

Former health ministry official and public health expert Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said cost remains a challenge.

“Cost is one of the challenges for the vaccination programme. The current cost of the vaccine is unaffordable to the government and general public,” he said.

Dr Zainal added that the government should work with vaccine manufacturers and private healthcare providers to find an appropriate mechanism to administer Qdenga to selected groups of people, such as children living in high-risk areas.

“The vaccine can save lives and costs and (lighten the) health burden. So hopefully, manufacturers and private clinics should not only be thinking about big profit margins but also making it affordable to the government and public,” he said.

Launched in the Malaysian market recently, Qdenga is administered in two doses over a three-month interval for those aged four and above.

The vaccine, approved by the Drug Control Authority, is designed to protect against all four dengue virus serotypes.

In Brazil, the vaccine is offered as part of the national vaccination programme.

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