Pfizer expects to roughly quadruple the price of its COVID-19 vaccine to between $110 to $130 per dose once the U.S. government’s purchasing program ends early next year, a company official said.
Angela Lukin said during an investor call Thursday the company is still in discussion with insurers but that they are confident the price will ensure equitable access and reimbursement. The federal government currently pays about $30 a dose and then distributes the vaccine to the public for free.
Pfizer in June signed a $3.2 billion deal with the Biden administration for 105 million doses.
“We are confident that the U.S. price point of the COVID-19 vaccine reflects its overall cost effectiveness and ensures the price will not be a barrier for access for patients,” Lukin said.
Lukin said Pfizer is working on manufacturing a single-dose shot, and the increased cost reflects that, as well as the cost of distribution.
She said the manufacturer was working in unknown territory during the pandemic’s emergency phase, but “we will now be moving into our sweet spot of the traditional commercial marketplace.”
Once the public health emergency ends and the federal supply of vaccines runs out, Lukin said she still anticipates that every American with private insurance or government insurance who is eligible for vaccination will not have any out-of-pocket costs.
Still, it’s not clear how the millions of uninsured people in the country will have access to the vaccine. Once the federal supply runs out, private insurers will be required to pay for the doses themselves, which could increase premiums.
Pfizer’s contract with the U.S. government runs through the end of the year. Federal health officials have said they anticipate shifting COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to the commercial marketplace sometime next year.
Lukin said she does not expect purchasing of the vaccines to transfer to the private sector until the first quarter of 2023 “at the earliest.”
Pfizer said it expects the COVID-19 vaccine market to be about the size of the flu shot market on an annual basis for adults.