The era of free Covid vaccines in the United States may be coming to an end, and pharmaceutical companies like Moderna are eyeing a price of $110 to $130 per vaccine, the the wall street journal reports. That’s more than four times the cost the government was paying for treatment under federal contracts.
Throughout the pandemic, the federal government has spent more than $30 billion to encourage the development, then secure the purchase and distribution, of coronavirus vaccines, effectively making them temporarily free at the point of treatment, according to a report. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis.
However, Congress has not agreed to new funding to buy and distribute more vaccines, which means treatment could move to the commercial medical distribution system as soon as this fall, ABC News reportsespecially if the Biden administration allows its Recently renewed Covid public health emergency final statement.
The shift to commercial drug distribution, where only those with insurance would have easy access to the vaccine, has outraged critics, who argue the change is a blow to U.S. public health priorities.
“I find your decision particularly offensive given the fact that the vaccine was jointly developed in partnership with scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a US government agency funded by US taxpayers,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders. . wrote in a letter to the CEO of Moderna Tuesday, noting the $1.7 billion in research and development funding the company has received from the federal government.
“In other words, you are proposing to make the vaccine unaffordable for the people of this country who made the production of the vaccine possible,” he continued. “It’s not acceptable.”
This may be unacceptable to some, but it is legal under federal law.
Under a 1980 law, the Bayh-Dole Act, federal contractors are allowed to retain intellectual property rights for inventions they develop with the help of federal funding, according to American Scientist.
The law allows the federal government to exercise partial control over such inventions, which some say could be a way to control vaccine prices, but Joe Biden said in 2020 that he does not approve of the use of Entrance fees.
Instead, as John Douglass of the Center for Higher Education Studies at the University of California, Berkeley noted in a 2021 analysisthe Biden administration has opted for other means of trying to secure access to vaccines, from mass federal contracts, to invoke the Defense Production Act to speed up the manufacture of more doses. Mr Biden has previously said he does not support the use of market rights and has called for legislation allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to set drug prices for innovations based on research funded by the federal government, which so far has not come. to pass.
Taken together, the end of the Federal Vaccine Purchasing Scheme and Congressional inaction will lead to a commercial system that “could act as a cost barrier for the uninsured and underinsured, who have no guaranteed mechanism to receive COVID-19 (or any other) vaccines once federal supplies run out,” according to KFF.
“It leaves the nation stuck in a cycle of panic and neglect,” said the Washington Post Editorial Committee argued Last week.
Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of the board of Moderna, defended the ongoing shift to commercialization.
“We agree that vaccines should be free. Governments should buy them to prevent disease. This is very different from [the idea that] people should innovate and come up with more efficient and more programmable approaches, and basically give them away,” he said. told Yahoo Finance tuesday.
“I think it’s a tough argument to make in value-based pricing to say that vaccines should be priced at 10 cents… That, I think, doesn’t come from the economic argument, it comes from the public health argument,” he said. added.