Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna on Wednesday defended its plans to quadruple the price of the shot to $130 per dose in the US, citing purchases transition from the government to the private sector, according to a Reuters report.
The discussions regarding the price rise come as the Joe Biden Administration announced the pandemic public health emergency would end in May, shifting price negotiations to insurers and other purchasers instead of just the federal government.
In a senate hearing regarding the price rise, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told lawmakers that when the company enters the commercial market, it will be required to deliver single-dose vials or pre-filled syringes of its Covid vaccine, compared to filling 10-dose vials for government procurement.
Bancel said once the company shifts to commercial distribution of the shots later this year, it will no longer have the economies of scale from government procurement. “On top of all this, we’re expecting a 90% reduction in demand," Bancel said. “As you can see, we’re losing economies of scale."
Moderna announced plans to increase the price of the Covid-19 jabs in a range of $110 to $130 per dose in the United States, similar to Pfizer’s October statement regarding price hike for its Covid shots sold in partnership with BioNTech.
Moderna’s price rise plans drew the ire of Democratic US Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the influential Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Sanders has advocated for lower drug prices and in the case of Moderna, urged the company against its move as it received government funding for the vaccine.
In January, Sanders wrote to Bancel urging Moderna to halt its planned US price increase, saying the price hikes could make it unaffordable for millions of Americans and stressed federal financial assistance in developing the vaccine.
Ahead of the Congressional hearing, Moderna’s president Stephen Hoge had said there are “different customers negotiating different prices right now, which is why it’s a little bit complicated."
He further said the government’s Medicare health plan for seniors pays $70 per dose for the seasonal influenza vaccine. “That there were two to three times more hospitalizations and deaths from COVID in the past three months alone than from the flu went into the company’s pricing reasoning," Hoge said.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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