WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representatives Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) sent a letter to Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, raising concerns over Pfizer executives’ statements earlier this year indicating the company would significantly raise the price of its COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, once the pandemic subsides.
“As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to keep vaccines accessible and reasonably priced. We have serious concerns regarding Pfizer’s statements and write to request more information,” the lawmakers wrote.
In June 2020, Bourla made assurances that market pricing for a COVID-19 vaccine would be “unethical” and would amount to “taking advantage of a situation.” But on an earnings call in February 2021, Pfizer’s Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio told investors Pfizer was “obviously…going to get more on price” for its COVID-19 vaccine—noting that currently Pfizer is receiving $19.50 per dose in the United States, “which is not a normal price like we typically get for a vaccine—$150, $175 per dose.” At an investor conference on March 11, 2021, Mr. D’Amelio doubled down on these claims and said Pfizer sees “a significant opportunity…from a pricing perspective” once the environment shifts from a “pandemic situation to an endemic situation.”
Pfizer is already making billions of dollars from the vaccine. In its February financial reports, Pfizer projected $15 billion in 2021 revenue from the COVID-19 vaccine alone. Last month, Pfizer updated these projections, indicating it now expected over $26 billion in 2021 revenues from the vaccine, with a profit from the vaccine in the “high-20s as a percentage of revenue.” Pfizer also expects to generate significant additional revenues in coming years from future COVID-19 booster shots and the development of other vaccines using mRNA technology.
“Thanks to large federal investments in research, development, and manufacturing—including billions of dollars to support production and delivery of Pfizer’s vaccine product—the COVID-19 vaccine is currently free for patients in the United States. However, future price escalations could cause private insurers to raise premiums and increase taxpayer costs for health care,” concluded the lawmakers.
To safeguard public health and ensure COVID-19 vaccines remain reasonably priced and accessible to all Americans and people around the world, the lawmakers have requested responses to their letter no later than June 22, 2021.
The full text of the letter is available here.