Pfizer executives said recently that there could be a "significant opportunity" to hike prices of the company's Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to an Insider report early Tuesday.
What are the details?
During last week's Barclays Global Healthcare Conference, Pfizer CFO Frank D'Amelio and Senior VP of Investor Relations Chuck Triano told company investors that there could be a "significant opportunity" to increase vaccine prices if the COVID-19 pandemic turns endemic, meaning that the virus is always with the world — not unlike influenza.
D'Amelio and Triano added that people may need a third vaccine to deal with emerging coronavirus variants, or may also require a third dose as a booster.
During the conference, D'Amelio said, "If you look at how current demand and current pricing is being driven, it's clearly not being driven by what I'll call normal market conditions or normal market forces. ... [I]t's been driven by the pandemic state we've been in, and the needs of governments to secure doses from various vaccine suppliers."
D'Amelio pointed out that when "normal market conditions" resume, there could be a chance for the company to capitalize on the vaccines from a "demand" and "pricing perspective."
"We believe it's becoming increasingly likely that an annual revaccination is going to take place," he added.
You can listen to the remarks in the video below.
A warning about rising prices
In February, Forbes reporter John LaMattina warned of rising COVID-19 vaccine prices.
"[P]rice gouging for the vaccines hasn't occurred," LaMattina wrote. "The most expensive of the vaccines has been Pfizer's, and that two-dose regimen is priced at $39. To put that into perspective the price for the quadrivalent flu shot in 2020 ranged from $35-$41 at places like Walgreen's, and CVS, with 'senior doses' (for those over 65) running close to $70. Given the destructive effects that COVID-19 has had on the economy, the new vaccines are a bargain. More importantly, they save lives."
He noted, however, that "goodwill" toward biopharmaceutical companies may soon well "evaporate" as other recent remarks made by D'Amelio implies that the company will "get more on price" once the pandemic wanes.
"One analyst speculated that Pfizer could be targeting a price 3-4 times higher — as much as $156/treatment," LaMattina added. "A sudden, dramatic increase in the cost of the vaccine will certainly damage the industry's image — almost like the industry would be performing a 'bait and switch' operation."
"Such a move would result in politicians calling industry executives to testify on Capitol Hill about how the company can justify such increases at the expense of the American public. All the accrued goodwill will be lost," he observed.
"Certainly, Pfizer should be able to raise the price of its COVID-19 vaccine — perhaps to the level of the high end flu vaccine prices," he concluded. "It should be noted that despite the billions in revenue that Pfizer will be generating from its vaccine, its stock price has been stagnant. It should be allowed to benefit for its unbelievable efforts. But Pfizer and the rest of the industry has dramatically changed the way it is viewed by the public. Let's not go back to getting bashed about drug prices, especially with respect to Covid-19 vaccines."