Pfizer's plan for $110+ Covid-19 vaccines riles up US senators
Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine became the best-selling medical product of all time in 2021, hauling in almost $37 billion in just one year.
But as the Big Pharma has seen sales decline with the changing of the variants and new government funds running dry, the firm’s mRNA vaccine will have to switch over to the commercial market at some point soon, and be covered by insurance. Two key senators are taking issue with that switch, which comes at a much steeper price — at least $110 per jab, rather than $19.50 per dose at the beginning of the pandemic.
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Senator-elect Peter Welch (VT) sent a letter yesterday to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, seeking information on why this price is increasing so rapidly.
“This price increase represents pure and deadly greed on the part of the company, and could result in the COVID-induced fatalities of many uninsured Americans that may be unable to afford the vaccine,” the senators wrote. “Even worse, Pfizer’s price hike could pave the way for other vaccine manufacturers like Moderna and Novavax to raise the prices of their vaccines, harming Americans seeking protection from COVID-19 and potentially worsening an ongoing public health crisis.”
Indeed, Moderna has already indicated that it also could charge north of $100 per shot as demand dries up.
While acknowledging that Pfizer deserves credit for its R&D accomplishments in bringing the vaccine, known as Comirnaty, and its antiviral to market so quickly, Warren and Welch note the extent that Pfizer benefitted from the federal government’s support, including its reliance on basic tech funded by the government and the July 2020 advanced purchase order from the federal government that amounted to $1.95 billion for 100 million doses.
“Pfizer has earned extraordinary profits from the vaccine,” the letter says. “Now, Pfizer’s proposed price hikes are estimated to bring in an additional $2.5 – $3 billion in annual revenue, marking yet another massive corporate payday from the ongoing pandemic.”
Among the open questions from the letter, the senators ask Pfizer, “How much profit does Pfizer estimate it would earn from the COVID vaccine in 2023 if it does not increase the vaccine’s price? What is the estimated number of patients that will not be able to afford the price increase for the new COVID vaccine?”
A Pfizer spokesperson told Endpoints News: “We can confirm receipt of the Warren-Welch letter. We will not get ahead of an official response in the media.”