Moderna’s expected 400% hike for its COVID vaccine sparked outrage on Capitol Hill.
The pharmaceutical giant could raise the price of the vaccine from its current $26 per dose to between $110 and $130 per shot, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted Moderna, noting that the company is getting rich off of a vaccine that was developed with financial aid from taxpayers.
“This vaccine was discovered in partnership with the NIH, with a government agency supported by the taxpayers of this country,” Sanders told CNN on Wednesday.
“In addition, the government put $1.9 billion into research and development for Moderna and then guaranteed Moderna billions of dollars in sales.”
Last year, Moderna raked in $18.4 billion from sales of its COVID vaccine.
“They’re going to charge whatever it is. 110 bucks a vaccine. It costs about $2 to produce that vaccine,” Sanders countered.
“So, the taxpayers of this country who put money into the vaccine in order to protect the health and lives of the American people are now creating billionaires in an industry — in a company that it’s going to quadruple prices for the American people,” the senator added.
“That is outrageous, that is unacceptable, and we’ve got to do something about that.”
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel defended the anticipated price hike, telling the Journal: “I would think this type of pricing is consistent with the value.”
The move is similar to the one made by Moderna’s rival, Pfizer, which raised the price of its COVID vaccine that was developed jointly with BioNTech by some 400%.
Last month, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) sent a letter to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla calling the price hike “pure and deadly greed.”
Pfizer, according to the senators, was guilty of “unseemly profiteering.”
“We urge you to back off from your proposed price increases and ensure COVID-19 vaccines are reasonably priced and accessible to people across the United States,” they wrote.
Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which use mRNA technology, has been made available to Americans for free after the doses were purchased by the federal government.
Both companies plan to shift to commercial distribution of the vaccines once their contracts with the federal government expires.
In July, the government reached a deal with Moderna to pay $26 per dose of the updated COVID booster shot. Previously, the government paid between $15 and $16 per dose.
This past summer, the government agreed to pay Pfizer a little more than $30 per dose — up from $19.50 per dose in 2020 contracts.
“We enter 2023 in a great position, with significant momentum across our clinical pipeline, a highly energized team and a strong balance sheet of over $18 billion of cash and cash equivalents,” Bancel said in a press release Monday.
Moderna said it anticipated making a minimum of $5 billion in vaccine sales this year.
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