“It’s more complicated to fix the fragmented US health care system that creates big barriers to Beyfortus access for some kids, O’Leary said. That system is structured such that many pediatricians have to take huge financial risks to keep Beyfortus in stock. For patients who get care at those practices, access will likely be a little touch-and-go until demand also stabilizes and pediatricians can better forecast how much to stock.
Why is it so risky for some pediatricians to stock certain immunization products?
It has to do with who’s paying for the products, and how much they cost. Pediatric vaccines are paid for and distributed in the US through two main mechanisms. About half of American kids get vaccines paid for by the federal government through a program called Vaccines for Children, or VFC. The program’s goal is to ensure cost isn’t a barrier to vaccinating kids, so eligibility is restricted to kids who are Medicaid-eligible, under- or uninsured, or American Indian or Alaska Native.
The other half of American kids get vaccines paid for by private insurance companies, but only after the pediatrician administers it. What insurance companies pay for each vaccine isn’t always enough to cover its full cost, and the pediatrician often doesn’t know how much an insurance company will pay them for a vaccine until after the fact.
This setup means ordering any vaccine is somewhat of a financial risk to pediatric practices. But because most vaccines are relatively cheap, and because their familiarity to most parents makes demand relatively predictable, the risk is relatively small.
The math is totally different for Beyfortus, though: One dose costs a doctor’s office nearly $500 — and as a totally novel immunization, its popularity was hard to forecast. “For a medium-sized practice, they might have to spend $250,000 to cover their patient population,” O’Leary said. “And that is not money they have lying around.””
“A universal vaccination program that made vaccines available across the lifespan, free of charge, would be wonderful, O’Leary said, and it’s what other industrialized countries like Canada and the United Kingdom do. “But that’s not where we are,” he said.”
“When supply chain issues caused a baby formula shortage last year, Congress (eventually) cut tariffs to help get more formula onto American store shelves.
It worked! Imports of baby formula soared during the second half of 2022 after tariffs and other regulations were lifted. Stores reported lower out-of-stock rates and news stories about panicked parents being unable to feed their infants abated. In short, the government removed economic barriers and the market solved the problem.
Then, the government put those barriers back in place. On January 1, the tariffs on baby formula returned. Now, so has the crisis.
“It’s getting harder and harder” to find baby formula, pharmacy owner Anil Datwani told Fox News this week. “[Mothers] go from one store to the next store to the next store” looking for baby formula.
Meanwhile, some consumers are complaining on social media that prices for baby formula have suddenly spiked and availability is once again a problem. A Forbes investigation into a recent increase in the price of Enfamil baby formula noted that the increases “follow the expiration of the U.S. government’s suspension of infant formula tariffs in January, which opened the door for formula (both foreign and U.S.-produced) to become more expensive.” (Another contributing factor: Reckitt Benckiser, the British-based company that owns the Enfamil brand, issued a recall in February affecting about 145,000 cans of formula.)
Because that’s what tariffs do, of course. They are import taxes that protect domestic industries at the expense of domestic consumers, who are subjected to limited supply and higher prices as a trade-off for industrial protectionism.”
“Headlines bemoaning shortages of everything from PlayStations and Care Bears to medical devices are no longer a daily occurrence. Just six vessels were waiting to dock at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday — a tiny fraction of the 109 that were stuck outside the San Pedro Bay back in January. Meanwhile, the cost of sending a 40-foot shipping container from Asia to the West Coast is now under $3,000, far below last year’s high of more than $20,000.
Still, the structural problems that enabled many of the delays, price hikes, and shortages over the past few years haven’t gone away. Shipping prices have not quite returned to their pre-pandemic levels, truck drivers are still in short supply, and some in the logistics industry are already predicting that there will be problems during the upcoming holiday season. More broadly, the capitalist system responsible for manufacturing and delivering goods throughout the world has not been “fixed.” In fact, it remains as vulnerable to disruption as ever. Consumers are still seeing widespread inflation, not only for energy and food but also for products that often depend on Pacific shipping routes, including apparel and new vehicles, according to the consumer price index summary published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week.
“If the supply chain is a patient coming into the ER, then it’s not bleeding to death anymore,” said Daniel Maffei, the chair of the Federal Maritime Commission. “But there are still a lot of issues with the supply chain. Some of them and maybe even the bulk of them predate Covid.””
“A global fertilizer crunch is threatening to further starve a planet that’s already going hungry.
Officials at the United Nations and beyond are stepping up warnings about the mounting crisis for fertilizers — an essential substance to boost soil fertility — as vulnerable countries in areas such as Africa grapple with prices that have soared by 300 percent since Russia’s war in Ukraine began.
The continent, where smallholder farmers feed the majority of people, is already lacking 2 million metric tons of fertilizer, according to the African Development Bank. The high price of fertilizers will mean less food at a time when people need it most, with more frequent bouts of extreme weather and the Ukraine war still leaving import-dependent countries insecure. Farmers in Europe are feeling similar strains, though to a lesser degree.”
“Making fertilizers is an energy-intensive process, especially for nitrogen-based fertilizers, which use natural gas as an essential ingredient. That means the price of fertilizers tends to correspond with energy costs.
“The increased price is [a] burden for all farmers in the world, but the burden is even higher for those farmers in developing countries that have less financial capacities and organisation to purchase the fertilisers than the European ones,” an EU official wrote to POLITICO.”
“Fertilizer prices were high even before Russia invaded Ukraine, which prompted a further 50 percent spike, according to the European Commission.
The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the problem because of Russia’s outsized role in the world fertilizer market. It’s the world’s top exporter of nitrogen fertilizers, the second largest supplier of potassium and the third-largest exporter of phosphorus fertilizers.
Since its invasion of Ukraine in February, shipping costs and energy prices have gone up. Europe’s fertilizer producers now warn of shortages if the Continent’s imports of natural gas from Russia continue to fall.”
“Hospitals across the country are grappling with widespread staffing shortages, complicating preparations for a potential Covid-19 surge as the BA.5 subvariant drives up cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
Long-standing problems, worker burnout and staff turnover have grown worse as Covid-19 waves have hit health care workers again and again — and as more employees fall sick with Covid-19 themselves.”
“There’s a clear lesson emerging from the first cities that have legalized “missing middle” housing. The more rules you lift on the construction of these two-, three-, and four-unit homes, the more you’ll actually see built.
San Francisco politicians have absorbed this information and are now using it for evil. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance theoretically legalizing fourplexes in the city’s lowest density neighborhoods, but only under conditions that will ensure almost none of this housing actually gets built.”
“it’s the FDA’s unnecessary and protectionist rules that effectively ban foreign-made baby formula from being imported into the United States. On Wednesday, the agency announced plans to tweak those rules so foreign formula manufacturers can permanently import their goods into the U.S., giving American consumers greater choice in the marketplace and ensuring more robust supply chains.”
” When the Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan was forced to close temporarily due to an FDA investigation into possible contamination, it created a supply shock that left store shelves empty and parents scrambling to find formula. Because of the FDA’s protectionist rules (and high tariffs levied on foreign-made formula), markets could not adapt quickly to the shortage here in America”
“In testimony to Congress, FDA officials admitted to botching the response to the contamination at the Abbott plant. But the real culprit of the recent shortage was a deeper and more pervasive one. No matter what nationalists like Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) might suggest, closing off the country to international trade is not a recipe for resilience. The baby formula crisis demonstrated that it is quite the opposite.
So it’s good to see the FDA admit those mistakes and crack open the door to allowing foreign formula into the U.S. on a permanent basis.
Unfortunately, the list of policy changes the FDA announced..mostly amounts to providing technical assistance to foreign firms that want to sell formula here. That is, offering help in navigating the complex approval process, rather than sweeping aside those regulations entirely. If a formula maker has passed muster under E.U. regulations, that should be good enough for the FDA.
There’s also the matter of tariffs on imported formula, which are so high that they effectively make any imported formula uncompetitive in the American market. Why would a foreign manufacturer like Holle or HiPP go through the complicated FDA approval process (even after the announced changes) if it knows in advance that its goods won’t be able to compete on a level playing field in America?”