Doctor to make 40,000 from single MMR jabs

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health/story.jsp?story=134182

By Jeremy Laurance Health Editor

19 February 2002
 
The past few weeks have been bedlam for Dr Christopher
Parry. His Tuesday afternoon clinic held in the centre
of Colchester, Essex, offering single measles, mumps
and rubella vaccines to the children of parents
worried by MMR has been overwhelmed.

"They have come from Wales, from the North, from all
over. It's madness," said a receptionist at his
vaccination clinic yesterday.

His appointment book is full until the end of July but
callers were being told yesterday that a second clinic
could start next month to cope with the demand. The
charge is 75 a vaccine, making 225 for the course of
three.

Parents are willing to pay the high charges because
few doctors are prepared to provide the single
vaccines and they are in short supply. The single
vaccines are unlicensed in this country and must be
ordered individually on a "named patient" basis.

Dr Parry is likely to receive more than 40,000 in
gross fees from his Tuesday afternoon clinics in the
next six months. His clinic runs from 1.30pm to 6pm
and he vaccinates five children an hour, yielding a
gross income of about 1,600 for the afternoon.

Dr Parry, an NHS GP, backs the MMR vaccination but
insists doctors must respond to demand. "I think MMR
is safe and I have given it to my three boys. But
people are not convinced of its safety and therefore
will opt to have nothing. I think single vaccines are
slightly less safe [than MMR] but they are better than
nothing."

He defended the high charges saying he had had to hire
a receptionist and a "bevy of maidens" to cope with
the volume of calls from worried parents in the past
few weeks. "I started last May doing it for a couple
of afternoons a week seeing 10-15 patients an
afternoon. Now it has taken off and I am really
stretched.

"If I am accused of cashing in I would say I cashed in
on it well before the latest hullabaloo - and the
driving force has been the refusal of parents to have
MMR. I could be accused of cashing in but I am
offering a pretty sensible service."

Dr Parry said he obtained his vaccine supplies from
IDIS World Medicines in Surbiton, Surrey. There had
been a hiccup in the supply but he was expecting fresh
vaccine to be available next week. IDIS was not
returning calls yesterday.

For his own NHS patients, Dr Parry said he would
administer the single vaccines without charge, but
they would have to obtain the vaccines themselves. "I
would advise them to have MMR but if they say no, and
put it in writing then I would give them a private
prescription to take to the chemist. I would never
dream of denying my NHS patients a service I was happy
to provide privately."

A spokeswoman for Boots said that a patient with a
private prescription for measles or mumps vaccine
would have to have it ordered individually, and the
cost would be 50 to 60 for each vaccine. Rubella
vaccine is licensed, because it is given to pregnant
women, and would be "much cheaper", the spokeswoman
said.

In Louth, Lincolnshire, Dr Peter Mansfield's "Good
Healthkeeping" clinic had been inundated with 10,000
calls a day, a receptionist said yesterday. There are
eight staff taking calls and the single vaccine
clinic, which runs on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays,
is fully booked until April.

Dr Mansfield, an energetic proselytiser for single
vaccines, was reported to the General Medical Council
last year by the local director of public health for
setting up a clinic in Worcestershire but the charges
were later dropped.

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