The article Serenbat posted a few days ago made a similar claim, although it discussed other reasons for high prices as well:
"There are, of course, some good reasons vaccines like Prevnar are more expensive than previous offerings. Vaccine trials, which once included thousands of volunteers, must now include tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, as fears about side effects like autism have grown…."
The thing is - vaccine rates are high and fairly stable. It isn't like plummetting vaccination rates are driving more extensive testing. Maybe fear of
vaccine rates plummetting is driving testing - but that is hardly a bad thing. More extensive testing is a good thing and it benefits those who vaccinate the most.
I wonder if other pharmaceutical products are also facing having to test larger groups of people than they once did? My guess is yes.
The history of medicine and pharmaceuticals has changed in the last 40 years or so. The old model of medicine was quite authoritarian: you went to the doctor and did as he said. Many people no longer want that, they want informed choice, and demand quality information to help them make that choice. We also do have the internet to help disseminate research, studies, etc…As a culture we are also well aware that sometimes pharmaceutical products end up being not so great or even dangerous. All this is to say that the heyday of doing minimal research, flogging your wares to doctors and having them easily push it on people are over or near over.
I also wonder if the nature of some of the newer drugs play into this?
Take varicella. Chicken pox has a child death rate of 1/100 000. Lets say it has a long term complication rate of 1/10 000 and acute/severe (but ultimately surmountable) complication rate of 1/100. A drug company should test (or follow) several 100 000's to make sure the death rate from the vaccine is not higher than the death rate from the disease. It is also going to need to test in the tens of thousand to get a decent "long term complcation" rate. The milder the disease, the more testing is required to justify it.
All of the above being said, I suspect what really drives prices is wanting profit. If high testing costs were the main reason for high vaccine costs, you would see more consistant pricing from doctor to doctor, which you do not have according to the article Serenbat posted, and consistant pricing between countries - which you also do not have. Wanting profit is the bottom line for companies. They should own that, rather than whine about a very small but stable group of non-vaxxers.