Drugmaker Pfizer said Friday that as government contracts come to an end, possibly by early next year, its Covid-19 vaccine will be sold for $110 to $130 per dose.
This price model comes down to increased distribution costs as well as an expected shift from multidose vials to single-dose ones.
This is the “commercial list price,” but the company says it does not anticipate that most people will have to pay out of pocket. It also pointed to its patient assistance program, which helps people without insurance get vaccines.
For now, Covid-19 vaccines are still available for free. Pfizer says it anticipates that the Covid-19 vaccine pricing could come into play when the distribution and reimbursement of vaccines transition from government contracts to the traditional health-care system, as early as the first quarter of 2023.
An analysis published by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week said that without additional funding or protections, the commercialization of Covid-19 preventative and countermeasures would create access barriers for vaccines, tests and therapeutics – especially for the uninsured and underinsured.
Two key changes will lead to commercialization: the end of the US government’s public health emergency declaration and the depletion of federally purchased supply. Each change creates its own challenges and, taken together, “may amplify access challenges,” the analysis says.
Neither change has come to pass; the public health emergency declaration was renewed last week for another 90 days. But Congress has yet to act on the Biden administration’s request for billions more in funding to ensure a steady and accessible supply of Covid-19 countermeasures.
A large portion of the government’s request for further Covid-19 funding is a “critical request” for resources to support development of new vaccines and treatments that can withstand future variants of the coronavirus, said Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response within the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“That would get us out of the boom-bust cycle surge in cases,” she said at a news briefing Wednesday hosted by KFF.
The goal is to avoid a situation like last winter when there was a test shortage due to lack of anticipation for the Delta variant, said Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health & HIV policy with KFF.
Another portion of the funding would go toward protecting the uninsured and ensuring universal access to Covid-19 countermeasures, O’Connell said.
According to the KFF analysis, once the measures are commercialized, uninsured adults would lose access to free vaccines. But treatments and tests would face the “most acute” challenges, with cost sharing that would affect how much of the cost would be covered by insurance.
Transitioning to commercialization was always part of the plan, O’Connell said. It’s the way other health conditions are approached in the US.
“But the process is complex,” she said. “Regardless of whether we were going to get Covid funding, we were eventually going to have to make this transition at some point. Part of the Covid request makes this a little less bumpy.”