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Moderna Plans to Quadruple Covid Vaccine Price

edited January 22 in Other Investing
Good for stock investors’ profits, bad for the American people. A significant part of the cost will be born by Medicare and Medicaid, i.e., taxpayers. It could also cost lives of the uninsured here as well as in developing nations buying our vaccines:
Just last week, the drug giant Moderna was scrambling to explain away concerns about its plans to quadruple the price for its Covid-19 vaccine, from $26 per dose to $110–130 per dose. “I would think,” claimed Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel, “this type of pricing is consistent with the value.”

It costs Moderna as little as $2.85 to produce a dose of the vaccine. So we’re talking about a price that would be roughly $127 above the production cost for each shot that goes into someone’s arm. Even by the standard measures of pharmaceutical-company excess, this is, as Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) suggest, an example of “unseemly profiteering.”

Does Moderna need the money? No. Over the past two years, the company has made more than $18 billion in profits from its vaccine. The company is literally awash in money—so much so that its CEO is now worth more than $6 billion, up from $4.3 billion in 2021. “This is what corporate greed looks like,” says former secretary of labor Robert Reich.

But shouldn’t Moderna be able to profit from a vaccine it created? Actually, as the office of Senator Bernie Sanders notes, the Moderna vaccine was “developed in partnership with scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a U.S. government agency that is funded by U.S. taxpayers. The federal government directly provided $1.7 billion to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine research and development, and guaranteed the company billions more in sales.”


  • American way - if you want to live, you have to pay.
    Why to stop at $130, life is much more precious.
  • edited January 22
    For any price to stick, actions of competitors will matter. So, what will Pfizer & BioNTech, etc will do? Will they collude & get into antitrust mess?

    Look at how Biogen's greed over its first FDA approved Alzheimer drug destroyed it. Medicare/Medicaid reluctance to play ball was a huge factor.

    Govt in future will also have the power to negotiate with Big Pharma. Right now, it is a passive player. Drug industry is also gaming the FDA approvals - get FDA approval & charge arm-and-leg, but Biogen overdid that & failed.

  • Sci-fi movies predicted this kind of biopharma practice years's all about the $$$. (and health, if you can afford it.)
  • Pfizer already announced a few months ago it was doing the same:
    Moderna’s stock actually rallied earlier after the Pfizer announcement in anticipation they would make the same move. There are so few dominant players here at a certain point it seems like collusion or cartel like behavior.
  • The crucial difference between Pfizer and Moderna cases is that Moderna took government fund for their vaccine development whereas Pfizer/BioNTech did not. Pfizer paid for their own development cost and they are exercising their rights to charge the market price (not that I agree with that). Moderna is a much smaller company that needs the government fund to develop and manufacture their mRNA vaccine.

    There must be clauses within the government grant to contain the eventual product cost or the government can claw back the fund, whether that is successful or not.
  • Let us hope the Feds (under Trump) extracted stock or some warrants etc when they pumped all that money into Moderna. As Trump is apparently such a shrewd I am sure he negotiated the US taxpayers a great deal
  • edited January 22
    It was in the news a while ago that Moderna and the NIH were in a patent dispute over mRNA technology. Moderna had filed a sole patent for its mRNA vaccine but the NIH protested that it should have been included as co-owner. Moderna let its original patent application expire/slide and may refile with or without the NIH - their talks are ongoing. If the NIH is included, how the Government will share in the proceeds, or whether it will independently license the mRNA technology, will be seen later. So, this is an unfolding story.

    As this link below shows, Moderna and NIH cooperated under informal arrangements during the Covid crisis. But it wasn't like a regular Government grant/contract that do have a clause that the Government has the right of first refusal for any commercialized technology. To encourage Covid vaccine or drug developments, the Government guaranteed advance orders to 8 companies for any products they may successfully develop (5 were for vaccines, 3 were for other types of drugs). It turned out that startup Moderna (without any prior commercial products) was more cooperative with the NIH/Government than Pfizer. Recall that, later, Pfizer didn't even want to give the Government priority in any subsequent/follow-up orders (beyond its initial guaranteed advance orders) until the Government threatened to use its powers under import/export regulations.

    As they say, this stuff/mess is complicated.
  • edited January 22
    Since October 20 of 2022 when Pfizer made its announcement it would raise vaccine prices and the market reacted by expecting Moderna would too, Moderna's stock is up 64% while Pfizer's is up only 5%. This makes sense as Moderna is a much more pure-play on the vaccine while Pfizer makes many other drugs.

    The other interesting factor here is evidence of how commercialization in the case of pharmaceuticals doesn't reduce prices as Adam Smith would like it, but increases them as there are so few players--from $27 per dose to a soon over $100 a dose. Meanwhile, even the debt ceiling and the new Congress's unwillingness to subsidize vaccines for citizens may be playing a role in Moderna's announcement as now the "free market" amongst only three manufacturers will determine the price. KFF illustrates the situation in the above link:
    The federal government has spent more than $30 billion1 on COVID-19 vaccines, including the new bivalent boosters, incentivizing their development, guaranteeing a market, and ensuring that these vaccines would be provided free of charge to the U.S. population. However, the Biden Administration has announced that it no longer has funding, absent further Congressional action, to make further purchases and has begun to prepare for the transition of COVID-19 vaccines to the commercial market. This means that manufacturers will be negotiating prices directly with insurers and purchasers, not just the federal government, and prices are expected to rise. Elsewhere, we have analyzed the implications of commercialization for access to and coverage of COVID-19 vaccines, finding that most, but not all, people will still have free access. Still, the cost of purchasing vaccines for the population is likely to rise on a per dose basis, though the extent to which it affects total health spending is dependent on vaccine uptake and any negotiated discounts, among other factors.
  • This is a huge problems for individuals, but the Biogen Alzheimer's drug will be a much bigger dollar problem for society.

    Here we have a very marginal drug that slows brain decline ( does not stop it or reverse it) very very modestly, kills 2 to 3% of selected patients in carefully monitored trial, was only tested on patients with early Alzheimer's in controlled situations, requires several MRIs during treatment and will cost thousands and thousands of dollars. Unless Medicare can limit it to clinical trial settings, there will be infusion clinics set up on every street corner by for profit clinics recruiting any elder with any degree of Alzheimer's to get this "miracle".

    Last year before they restricted the use of the other Biogen drug, Medicare increased the part B premiums of very single member in the US at least $7 just to cover an even more marginal drug.

    Dozens of Scientists and MDs wrote a letter supporting this one's approval. Guess how many of them had contracts, consulting arrangements or speaking fees with Biogen? 50%

  • Back in 2022 Moderna sues Pfizer for patent infringement on Moderna's technology.
    It is unclear who was first to file the critical claims on these patents since BioNTech has been working on mRNA even longer than Moderna. How much is the overlaps there is between Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech's patents?

    The NIH complaint case is very interesting since they collaborated with Moderna in the development of their vaccines and leading to a marketable product. Thus NIH has earned the coinventorship rights. If Moderna tries to file a separate patent excluding NIH the new patent can be invalidated if the patent is challenged in the court.

  • bags of last week's garbage. This country's still too stupid to stop this from happening. Time and again.
  • People vote Republican, they get what follows. I guess those folks believe that the vaccines are some kind of hoax with microchips to control them, so they don't care much anyway.
  • LOL. Too true!
  • The most recent data from Henry A Choy a UCLA biologist. He sends out irregular summaries of Covid. I can't remember where I heard of him or if you can email him and get on his mailing list but worth trying as he has very good data and references

    [email protected]

    "Although infections and deaths are trending down, the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 continues to grow outside of the Northeast, where it’s already dominating at 87% of new cases (CDC). In the West and Midwest, it’s at 24% (up 50% and 71%, respectively, in a week) and at 39% in the Southeast (up 26%). At 49% nationally, XBB.1.5 will eventually replace BQ.1.1, which has slid to 27%. 


    So far, the bivalent mRNA boosters remain effective in lowering the risks for serious disease and death. Besides the not-vaccinated having a 19-fold higher chance of dying from an infection than people with up-to-date boosters, the latter group is 3 times less likely to get hospitalized than those with only a primary series (CDC). 

    However, bivalent use remains low. Despite the safety of the booster for kids 5 to 11 (Update January 16), only 11.5% of recipients of a primary series have gone back for the bivalent (CDC). 

    Kids under 5 not yet eligible for a bivalent booster (Pfizer’s 3-jab primary series for this age group uses the bivalent as the 3rd dose) are not even getting their primary vaccination. Only 5% of kids 2 to 4 have a primary and 3% of those under 2 (CDC). For the kids under 2, this translates to the highest rate of recent emergency department visits for COVID, 5.0%, which tops the 3.8% for adults over 64. "

    How can you not vaccinate your kids? This makes refusing measles vaccine look like a good idea, I guess you can believe that since everyone else is vaccinated, there is no measles for you kid to catch, but clearly there is a lot of Covid still.

  • edited January 23
    Here's another excellent source for current information on Covid and other potential epidemics- Katelyn Jetelina- Your local Epidemiologist.

    She publishes a newsletter once a week or so. I've been following her information for over a year, and she' really a great medical communicator. You can subscribe to her free email newsletter at the link above.
  • +1. both of you.
  • bivalent use remains low. Despite the safety of the booster for kids 5 to 11 (Update January 16), only 11.5% of recipients of a primary series have gone back for the bivalent (CDC).
    That is the sad part of this political environment. So what so great of being long COVID patients and your outlook on life is greatly diminished.
  • Old_Joe said:

    Here's another excellent source for current information on Covid and other potential epidemics- Katelyn Jetelina- Your local Epidemiologist.

    She publishes a newsletter once a week or so. I've been following her information for over a year, and she' really a great medical communicator. You can subscribe to her free email newsletter at the link above.

    I agree that Your Local Epidemiologist is a great resource.

  • I havent seen any data yet, but it is concerning that of my multitude of relatives across the country, one husband and wife both got it, although they only go to grocery stores masked.

    She had symptoms for several weeks and is still down a t bit. The other cousin's wife got it at work and it took over two months for her worse headaches and fatigue to start to resolve. My son got it in August and it took 3 months before he felt well.

    This variant is obviously much more contagious and may be taking longer to resolve and even ? making more long Covid

    Interestingly the feds are shipping Paxlobid to all US doctor's offices free of charge
  • No doubt the omicron variant is much more contagious than previous strains. The bivalent booster is still effective against serious hospitalization but there are reported breakthrough cases. Some may last longer than several days depending on the health situation of the individuals. Some studies suggested that small concentration of the virus remain within the body and reinfect different organs. For the older demographics, many doctors recommend anti-viral medicationssuch as Paxlovid to kill off the remaining virus within the body. A two weeks dosage is necessary to avoid the “rebound effect” that was observed for those who took the one week treatment.
  • I have no personal experience with Paxlobid, thank goodness. However all my over 65 infected relatives have gotten it and hated it, even for five days. The taste is so bad it would be a great weight loss tool.

    I don't think the current recommendations are for more than five days and only in over 65 and high risk people, and while you might get your PCP who knows you to give you more, most people go to Urgent Care or a pharmacy where they do not have a known provider who trusts them

    Longer courses are reserved for people who rebound with significant symptoms.

    As far as the virus hanging around, no one knows. It likely can as other RNA viruses do like HIV. The nearest similar disease to long Covid is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which in many cases is due to a DNA virus mononucleosis. Some of these patients do improve with long term (months) of anti-viral therapy
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