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Rotavirus vaccines setback

The two rotavirus vaccines on the market are not cost-effective for routine immunisation, a Health Protection Agency analysis reveals.

Researchers concluded the vaccines would have to become 'extremely' competitively priced before they would be suitable for the UK childhood schedule.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recently decided to set up a sub-group to examine rotavirus vaccination, but the new study suggests they are unlikely to recommend it until prices come down.

Researchers found that a programme using Rotateq, at £25 a dose, would cost £79,000 per quality-adjusted life year gained, and using Rotatrix at £35 a dose would cost £61,000 per QALY.

The NICE outer threshold for cost-effectiveness is £30,000 per QALY.

Dr Mark Jit, an author on the study and health economist at the HPA, said: 'Our analysis indicates routine rotavirus vaccination can have a substantial impact on the short-term morbidity burden. However, it would only be cost effective in the UK if the vaccines are priced extremely competitively.'

The study, published online by Vaccine, is the first cost-utility analysis of rotavirus vaccination in a developed country. It compared costs and outcomes of vaccination using a cohort model, following children over the first five years of life.

The researchers said rotavirus gastroenteritis was predicted to account for about 130,000 episodes, 12,700 hospitalisations and 3.1 deaths over the first five years of life in a population cohort in England and Wales.

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