Beware of overpriced flu shots

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 20, 2004

With limited supplies of flu vaccine available to the public, North Carolina consumers and medical professionals should be alert to the possibility of price gouging, Attorney General Roy Cooper reported.

&uot;We’d hate to see unscrupulous companies trying to make an unfair profit off of young children and seniors who really need their flu shots,&uot; said Cooper. &uot;If you suspect you’re being overcharged for a flu shot, let my office know about it.&uot;

Although Cooper’s office has yet to receive any complaints about price gouging in North Carolina, attorneys general in other states as well as the Centers for Disease Control have received reports of possible price gouging of flu vaccines by either distributors or providers of the vaccine.

For example, Kansas this week filed suit against Florida-based Meds-Stat, alleging that the company proposed to deliver and sell five doses of flu vaccine to Kansas City pharmacy for $900 with the knowledge that the vaccine was to be used in a nursing home. On October 1, the price for the five doses was listed at $85.

Consumers or retailers who suspect they are being overcharged for flu vaccine are encouraged to report it to Cooper’s office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.

In North Carolina, flu shots offered by local pharmacies, doctors and others generally cost between $10 and $25.

Supplies of flu vaccine are limited because British-based Chiron, one of two manufacturers that usually provide vaccine to the United States, announced that it would not provide doses this year. Due to the shortage of flu shots available, the CDC has recommended that only certain people get vaccinated, including children between the ages of six months and 23 months, Seniors age 65 and older, women who are pregnant, and people with chronic health conditions.

More information on these guidelines is available at