Compared to other countries, in the United States, even drugs that we helped develop are once again becoming exorbitantly expensive.
The current COVID-19 booster campaign is being paid for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderna’s latest 2023-2024 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine costs approximately $82 per dose. For programs that provide vaccines to the uninsured. That price is more than three times the $26 per dose the federal government paid for the latest booster, which was distributed exclusively by the government.
The price increase marks the vaccine’s transition from federal distribution to the commercial market. Moderna and rival manufacturer Pfizer have raised the list price of their coronavirus vaccines by about 400% in the United States. (Moderna’s price is $128; Pfizer’s price is $115).
The price increase is particularly noticeable at Moderna, which developed its coronavirus vaccine with significant support from the federal government. The company developed the vaccine in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and received a $1.7 billion federal grant for clinical development.
At a March Congressional hearing on vaccine pricing, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, who became a billionaire during the pandemic, did not hesitate to defend quadrupling prices. Specifically, Mr. Bancel downplayed the U.S. government’s contribution and suggested that previous pricing was actually a discount.
“We were under no obligation to do so, but in recognition of the U.S. government’s investment, we decided to offer the government a discount,” Bancel said of the $26 per dose price point.
“Without the partnership and expertise of the NIH and the significant investment of this nation’s taxpayers, this vaccine would not exist,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (R-Vt.), who chaired the hearing. “And this is where ‘gratitude’ comes in,” he countered. This country’s taxpayers received from Moderna for their huge investment: They thanked American taxpayers by proposing to quadruple the price of their coronavirus vaccine. ing. ”
Now, to add insult to injury, the European Union may end up paying a third as much as the United States for the same vaccine.according to Financial Times coverage, EU health authorities are negotiating a vaccine supply deal with Moderna, but the price per dose being discussed so far is just 25 euros, or about $26, Bancel previously said. This suggested a discounted price for the U.S. government. The EU price is not final, but the price discussed in negotiations is significantly lower than the price the US is already offering for renewal shots.
This news is perhaps infuriating, but not surprising. At a Congressional hearing in March, Mr. Bancel hinted that the United States would not be able to strike a good deal on the shootings. Mr. Sanders asked him directly.
“The United States, our people, generally pay some of the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs…The prices you’re charging for vaccines are lower than other countries around the world, at least. Can you tell us today? Are you paying?” Mr. Sanders begged.
Mr. Bancel finally answered, “We cannot say that the prices are lower than in other countries.”