Pfizer plans to more than double price of COVID medication Paxlovid

(The Hill) — Pfizer will be selling its COVID-19 antiviral treatment at more than twice the price at which it was sold to the federal government as it transitions towards the commercial market.

Since Paxlovid was first made available at the end of 2021, the federal government has subsidized the cost. Pfizer sold the treatment to the government at a discounted rate of $530, and, when a move to commercialization was announced, an increase in price was expected.

The company confirmed Thursday that the list price for a five-day course of Paxlovid will be $1,390.

A similar move was seen when COVID-19 vaccine became commercialized. The federal government paid $19.50 per dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, and the commercial list price was six times that at $120.

“Pricing for PAXLOVID is based on the value it provides to patients, providers, and health care systems due to its important role in helping reduce COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths,” Pfizer said in a statement.

“The list price does not necessarily reflect the price a patient will pay. As always, Pfizer’s goal is to ensure broad and equitable access to our medicines,” the company noted. “We are working diligently with payers to achieve the best possible formulary placement for PAXLOVID, resulting in low out-of-pocket (OOP) costs for patients. Also, Pfizer will offer a copay program for eligible privately insured patients, who could pay as little as $0.”

Paxlovid is a five-day treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 cases in adults at risk for severe illness. It consists of the antiviral drugs nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, and patients are meant to take two doses of each during the course of treatment.

Treatment with Paxlovid has been found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from SARS-CoV-2 and may also reduce the chances of someone developing long COVID.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it had reached an agreement to begin a transition to commercialization for Paxlovid last week. This transition is scheduled to start in November.

During the transition, HHS said it would be “prioritizing and reserving” the doses it has for the uninsured as well as people on Medicaid and Medicare. Individuals in these groups will still be able acquire free rounds of Paxlovid through the end of 2024.

Pfizer noted last week that it does not expect commercialized doses to be widely used in 2023, as doses marked under the Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration will still be available for free until the end of the year.

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