Becerra Encourages Manufacturers to Set “Reasonable” Prices on Upcoming Rounds of COVID-19 Vaccines
In case you missed it, on Thursday, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra penned a letter to brand name drug makers, urging them to price new COVID-19 vaccines entering the market this year at “a reasonable rate.” The letter follows announced plans by two Big Pharma giants, Pfizer and Moderna, to hike the price of their COVID-19 vaccines as payment shifts from the U.S. Government to the private market.
In his letter, Secretary Becerra emphasized the critical role played by taxpayers in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, including “invest[ing] billions of dollars in research, development, and procurement…across multiple manufacturers.” Becerra adds, “price gouging behavior takes advantage of the trust the American people have placed in you through the COVID-19 response.”
In 2022, Reuters reported that Pfizer planned to “as much as quadruple” the price of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine – to a price that would represent a “10,000 percent markup over what experts have estimated it costs the vaccine makers to produce the shots.”
Earlier this year, brand name drug maker Moderna announced plans to hike the price of its COVID-19 vaccine, branded under the name Spikevax, from a price of around $26 per dose to as much as $130 per dose. Moderna’s proposed price hike would amount to a nearly 500 percent increase on the vaccine despite already receiving billions of dollars from taxpayers to pay for and acquire the shot.
The U.S. Government funded research that led to some of the underlying technology behind the company’s vaccine. Taxpayers later provided an almost $10 billion investment to help develop and purchase doses of the vaccine. This enabled the company to make windfall profits and ensured massive paydays for the company’s executives.
Shortly after U.S. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called on Moderna’s CEO to testify, Moderna announced plans to ensure shots of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine would remain free for patients. However, the company’s proposed mechanism to accomplish this – a patience assistance program – will ultimately only pass these costs along to taxpayers and the health care system.
In 2021 and 2022, Moderna’s revenue topped $18 billion each year. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had not reported a profit in any single quarter in any single year, demonstrating the importance of the company’s COVID-19 treatment to Moderna’s bottom line. In 2022, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel made $398 million, as the company ballooned in market value and popularity. According to STAT News, “the pay package is likely to be one of the largest in health care for 2022.”
American Voters Overwhelmingly Agree COVID-19 Vaccines & Treatments Must Be Priced Affordably
A national survey from January of this year, commissioned by CSRxP and conducted by Morning Consult, found American voters are overwhelmingly concerned about Big Pharma price increases on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Read the full letter from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra HERE.
Read more on Pfizer’s pledge to hike vaccine prices HERE.
Read more on Moderna’s price increase on the company’s COVID-19 vaccine HERE.
Learn more about bipartisan, market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.