New measures could lead to difficulties in accessing new vaccines, a pharmaceutical company representative body has warned.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) proposals to lower the current cost-effectiveness of vaccines from £20,000 per Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) to £15,000 could negatively impact on millions of children and adults, according to the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

The proposed change is one of 27 recommendations by the cost-effectiveness methodology for vaccination programmes (CEMIPP) group, which looked at whether the method for appraising the cost-effectiveness of vaccination programmes should change.

It found that a stricter hurdle for new vaccines would be ‘cost-effective compared to existing methodology’.

The DHSC said it will listen to responses to its proposals before coming to a final decision.

‘Harder to access vaccines’

The ABPI said: ‘Taken together, the effect of the proposed changes to the threshold and the discount rate will make it harder for vaccines to demonstrate that they are cost effective, thereby limiting access to vaccines for children and adults on the NHS.

‘The current threshold already ensures value for money from vaccines that prevent infectious diseases and support efforts to eliminate them from the UK.’

A DHSC spokesperson told The Pharmacist that the proposals are complex and the recommendations should be considered as a whole.

They said: ‘Our vaccination programme is world-leading. We constantly review the latest evidence, prioritising new and existing vaccines we know offer the best protection.

‘This report was commissioned to consider if the methods used to assess cost-effectiveness of vaccination programmes should change and is now open for consultation.

‘We will carefully consider the responses before making any decision.’

‘Based on solid evidence’

The proposals said that the DHSC bases its immunisation programmes on a ‘robust cost-effectiveness methodology and any changes should be based on solid evidence’.

But the ABPI believes that any proposals should be ‘very well validated’, as the only small study they were based on has ‘significant shortcomings and limitations’ it said.

The consultation on the DHSC's proposals runs until 21 May.