Moderna Considers Hiking COVID Vaccine Price to $130 per Dose, Report Says

Moderna Considers Hiking COVID Vaccine Price to $130 per Dose, Report Says
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Bivalent, at AltaMed Medical clinic in Los Angeles, California, on Oct. 6, 2022. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Moderna is eying a price of $110 to $130 per COVID-19 vaccine dose when its supply deals with the U.S. government end, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.

Moderna, like its vaccine competitor Pfizer, is considering a higher commercial price for its two-shot mRNA vaccine, CEO Stéphane Bancel told the WSJ at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Fransisco.

"I would think this type of pricing is consistent with the value," said Bancel, according to the WSJ report.

The Massachusetts-based drugmaker is reportedly considering a huge price increase. By contrast, the price the U.S. government paid for public contracts ranged from $15.25 to $17.5 per dose.

In 2020, the federal government under President Donald Trump made two bulk purchases from Moderna, totaling 200 million vaccine doses at a total cost of $3.2 billion. The initial August 2020 deal guaranteed an advance market for 100 million dose at a price of $15.25 per dose. The pricing for the second purchase, made in December of that year, was about $16.67 per dose.

In 2021, the Biden administration proceeded to buy an additional 300 million doses of Moderna vaccine at a slightly higher price for each dose. In February of that year, the federal government paid Moderna $1.75 billion for 100 million doses. Four months later, Moderna secured another $3.3 billion deal for 200 million doses.

The latest vaccine deal was announced in July 2022, when the Biden administration agreed to pay $1.74 billion for 66 million doses of Moderna's bivalent vaccine booster, or about $26.36 per shot.

Bernie Sanders Complains About Price Hike

In a letter to Bancel, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked that the company halt any planned price hike, which he said would make the vaccine unaffordable for millions of Americans.

"You propose to make the vaccine unaffordable for the residents of this country who made the production of the vaccine possible," wrote Sanders, the self-styled democratic socialist who will soon chair the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "That is not acceptable."

"Now, in the midst of a continuing public health crisis and a growing federal deficit, is not the time for Moderna to be quadrupling the price of this vaccine. Now is not the time for unacceptable corporate greed," he wrote.

This is not the first time Sanders took issue with Moderna, which became richer amid a series of lucrative vaccine deals with the federal government. Moderna's revenues went from $803 million in 2020 to $18.5 billion 2021, and made $18.4 billion in 2022 in vaccine sales alone. Meanwhile, Bancel's "change-in-control" package also jumped from $9.4 million to $922.5 million.

Change in control refers to contracts stating the payout for an executive should a change in company ownership occur—also called a “golden parachute.” 

"Can you believe this? The federal government put $2.5 BILLION into Moderna to develop a vaccine and the CEO walked away with a $926 million golden parachute," Sanders wrote on Twitter last July. "That is how corrupt and criminal the system is."