Senators accuse Pfizer of 'deadly greed' over price hike of covid shot

Democrats accuse Pfizer of ‘pure and deadly greed’ over plan to quadruple the cost of its Covid shot next year

  • Sen Warren and Sen-Elect Welch are demanding answers about dose price hikes
  • Their letter adds pressure to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to reverse course
  • Pfizer, which has made $80BN off the pandemic, will hike prices to $130/shot 

Democrats have attacked Pfizer over its plan to quadruple the price of its Covid shot next year — describing the firm of ‘pure and deadly greed’.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Sen-elect Representative Peter Welch of Vermont sent a scathing letter to the pharma giant’s CEO Albert Bourla Monday, urging him to change course.

Pfizer announced plans in October to raise the price of its shot to $130, once the government uses up the doses it has bought and the vaccine goes on the open market next year. 

The lawmakers accused Pfizer of ‘unseemly profiteering’ and warned it could prompt other Covid shot makers like Moderna to raise its price up, making the vaccine unaffordable for the uninsured and pushing up premiums for those who are.

Pfizer will begin charging $130 for its COVID-19 vaccine from next year – a 10,000% mark-up from the estimated $1.18 it costs them to develop a single dose of the vaccine. The firm was charging the US government around $20 per shot but rose prices in an effort to make up for poor demand for the jabs. It is forecasted to rake in over $100billion in revenue this year, and brought in $81.2billion last year. These figures well clear the $40billion per year it was earning the years prior. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has earned $50million in compensation over the past two years, while BioNTech found Dr Ugar Sahin is now a billionaire


Warren and Welch teamed up to pressure pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to hold off on hiking up the prices of its Covid shots, which could restrict availability only to people with money

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Since vaccines were introduced, the US government has paid about $20 per dose, and the shots are free to Americans regardless of insurance status.

But in the absence of the federal government buying up millions of additional doses at a reasonable price, Pfizer plans to jack its price up to $130.

That represents a 10,000 percent mark-up from the estimated $1.18 it costs the New York City-based company to produce each dose of the vaccine.

Sen Warren and Sen-elect Welch wrote: ‘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 cost of vaccines will soon be negotiated with insurance companies and private purchasers, not the federal government. 

The Biden Administration’s Covid funding is running dry. Congress has balked at White House requests to bolster federal money for new vaccines, research and development, treatments, and test supplies. 

The progressive lawmakers have demanded answers from the pharmaceutical company by January 9. 

Some of the lawmakers’ questions include how much revenue the company expects to make in 2023, factoring in the price hikes, and the estimated number of patients that will not be able to afford the price increase for the new vaccine.

What answers are the Democratic lawmakers demanding from Pfizer?

  • How much revenue did Pfizer earn from the COVID vaccine in 2021? How much is the company expected to earn for the full 2022 calendar year?
  • How much revenue does Pfizer estimate it would earn from the COVID vaccine in 2023 if it does not increase the vaccine’s price? 
  • How much revenue does Pfizer estimate it will earn from the COVID vaccine in 2023 factoring in the increase in the vaccine’s price? 
  • How much profit did Pfizer earn from the COVID vaccine in 2021? How much is the company expected to earn for the full 2022 calendar year? 
  • How much profit does Pfizer estimate it would earn from the COVID vaccine in 2023 if it does not increase the vaccine’s price? 
  • How much profit does Pfizer estimate it will earn from the COVID vaccine in 2023 factoring in the increase in 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? How many more patients does Pfizer estimate will apply for the company’s Patient Assistance Program under this price increase? How many of these patients does Pfizer estimate will not be eligible for this program? 
  • In 2022 to date, how many patients have sought assistance in paying for the COVID vaccine through Pfizer’s Patient Assistance Program? How many have received some assistance? How many have had all of their costs for the vaccine covered by the Patient Assistance Program? 
  • How much will Pfizer charge Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA for the COVID vaccine in 2023? How much does Pfizer estimate that it will charge private insurers for the vaccine, factoring in discounts and rebates? 

‘Thanks to billions of federal dollars used to support production and delivery of Pfizer’s vaccine product, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is currently free for patients in the United States,’ Warren and Welch said.

‘But this progress is now at risk because of Pfizer’s greed. We urge you to back off from your proposed price increases and ensure COVID-19 vaccines are reasonably priced and accessible to people across the United States.’

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has come under fire in recent months for the price hikes, despite promises that the shot will remain free to Americans regardless of whether they have insurance.

Mr Bourla has raked in millions in personal wealth since the start of the pandemic, and the company has amassed about $80 billion in yearly revenue from sales of Covid vaccines and the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

The company’s CFO told investors last month that they expect the cashflow to continue, as fighting Covid ‘is going to be a multibillion-dollar franchise in the respect that this is going to be somewhat like a flu, sustained flu, but actually more deadly than the flu.’

Pfizer is not the only Covid shot manufacturer eyeing steep price hikes. Moderna, the maker of another mRNA Covid vaccine, is said to be considering raising the commercial price to $82 to $100 per dose.

The progressive lawmakers argued in their letter that once Pfizer changes the price tag on vaccine doses, Moderna and other vaccine maker Novavax are bound to follow suit, ‘harming Americans seeking protection from COVID-19 and potentially worsening an ongoing public health crisis.’

The federal government has spent a staggering $30 billion on Covid vaccines since the first ones became available in late December 2020. 

Included in that total is the cost of developing and mass-producing the bivalent vaccines that target the original and omicron strains of Covid-19. Those boosters, though, have been met with less-than-stellar enthusiasm. 

Less than 14 percent of eligible Americans five and older have gotten a bivalent booster, compared to a staggering 73 percent who completed the original two-shot regimen.

Public health authorities have struggled to rally support around the latest booster shot as the population becomes increasingly fatigued with all things Covid. 

The Biden administration doubled down on its efforts to encourage apathetic Americans to get the booster, announcing a six-week blitz in November aimed at ‘reaching seniors and the communities that Covid-19 hardest hit through making it more convenient to get vaccinated and increasing awareness through paid media.’

It comes after Pfizer forecasted up to $15bn in annual revenue by 2030 from its shots.

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