Pfizer announced Thursday that it is hiking the price of its COVID-19 injections 400%, as its contract with the federal government nears its end. While the government currently pays Pfizer about $30 per dose, that price will skyrocket to $110-$130 per dose, according to Reuters.
Pfizer US President Angela Lukin said that the price hike will not affect those with private or government insurance.
“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.
The federal government’s COVID-19 public emergency is set to expire next year, which would leave Pfizer without its lucrative government contracts. In its most recent deal announced in June, the government paid Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech $3.2 billion for 105 million doses.
But Pfizer won’t be left completely bereft; the pharma giant last week received a last-minute pass from the CDC, whose Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to permanently make the COVID-19 injections part of children’s immunization schedules.
Adding the Pfizer shot to the immunization schedule for children will also continue to shield Pfizer from liability, a privilege the company has enjoyed under the public emergency. By remaining on a government-authorized immunization schedule, the Pfizer injection will qualify for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), under which vaccine manufacturers cannot be sued for injury without the complainant first filing a claim with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Only if the claim is denied, or if it is approved but the compensation is rejected by the injured party, can a lawsuit be filed against the pharmaceutical company.
The compensation awarded to vaccine victims are usually taken from a tax excised by the US government for each dose. This means that Pfizer’s 400% price hike now allows the federal government to impose a larger tax, which will be able to fund a much larger compensation coffer. These extra monies will be particularly useful if the government and Pfizer anticipate many vaccine injuries.