AP – Pfizer will charge USD110 to USD130 for a dose of its COVID-19 vaccine once the United States (US) government stops buying the shots, but the drugmaker says it expects many people will continue receiving it for free.
Pfizer executives said the commercial pricing for adult doses could start early next year, depending on when the government phases out its programme of buying and distributing the shots.
The drugmaker said it expects that people with private health insurance or coverage through public programmes like Medicare or Medicaid will pay nothing.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover many recommended vaccines without charging any out-of-pocket expenses.
A spokesman said the company also has an income-based assistance programme that helps eligible US residents with no insurance get the shots.
The price would make the two-dose vaccine more expensive for cash-paying customers than annual flu shots. Those can range in price from around USD50 to USD95, depending on the type, according to CVS Health, which runs one of the US’ biggest drugstore chains.
A Pfizer executive said on Thursday that the price reflects increased costs for switching to single-dose vials and commercial distribution.
The executive, Angela Lukin, said the price was well below the thresholds “for what would be considered a highly effective vaccine”.
The drugmaker said last year that it was charging the US USD19.50 per dose, and that it had three tiers of pricing globally, depending on each country’s financial situation.
In June, the company said the US government would buy an additional 105 million doses in a deal that amounted to USD30 per shot.
The government has the option to purchase more after that.
Pfizer’s two-shot vaccine debuted in late 2020 and has been the most common preventive shot used to fight COVID-19 in the US.
More than 375 million doses of the original vaccine, which Pfizer developed with the German drugmaker BioNTech, have been distributed in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That doesn’t count another 12 million doses of an updated booster that was approved earlier this year.
The vaccine brought in USD36.78 billion in revenue last year for Pfizer and was their top-selling product.
Analysts predict that it will rack up another USD32 billion this year, according to FactSet. But they also expect sales to fall after that.
More than 90 per cent of the adult US population has already received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. But only about half that population has also received a booster dose.