Moderna CEO: 400% price hike on ‘value compatible’ COVID vaccine

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel during a Bloomberg Television interview on the closing day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, May 26, 2022.
Enlarge / Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel during a Bloomberg Television interview on the closing day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, May 26, 2022.

Moderna plans to raise the price of its COVID-19 vaccine by more than 400% — from $26 per dose to between $110 and $130 per dose — according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Ars has reached out to Moderna for comment but has yet to receive a response. The plan, if realized, would match the previously announced price hike for Pfizer-BioNTech’s rival COVID-19 vaccine.

The Journal spoke with Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco on Monday, who said of the 400% price hike: “I think that kind of price is consistent with the value.”

So far, mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been purchased by the government and given to Americans for free. In July’s last federal contract, Moderna’s updated booster cost the government $26 per dose, compared to $15 to $16 per dose in previous supply contracts, the Journal notes. Similarly, the government paid just over $30 per dose for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine last summer, compared to $19.50 per dose in 2020 contracts.

But now that the federal government is backing away from distributing the vaccines, their manufacturers are turning to the commercial market, with price adjustments. Financial analysts had previously expected Pfizer to price its vaccine commercially at just $50 per dose, but were surprised in October when Pfizer announced plans to price it between $110 and $130. Analysts then predicted that Pfizer’s price would cause Moderna and other vaccine makers to follow suit, which seems to be happening now.

Lawmakers have already lambasted Pfizer for the steep increase. In a letter sent last month to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) called the price hike “pure and deadly greed” and accused the business of “improper profits”.

“We urge you to forgo your proposed price increases and ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are reasonably priced and accessible to people across the United States,” they wrote.

The revelation that Moderna could match Pfizer’s price increase comes just a day after Moderna announced that its 2022 COVID-19 vaccine sales were about $18.4 billion.

“We enter 2023 in a great position, with significant momentum in our clinical pipeline, a very dynamic team and a strong balance sheet of over $18 billion in cash and cash equivalents,” Bancel of Moderna said in a press release on Monday.

Moderna also noted in the release that it expects to achieve a minimum of $5 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales in 2023.

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