Pfizer has disclosed that it will charge $1,390 for a five-day course of its COVID antiviral medication, Paxlovid, as it shifts towards the commercial market later this year, according to a company spokesperson. This list price, prior to any rebates or discounts offered to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, is more than double the $529 that the federal government paid for Paxlovid.
Paxlovid has been distributed to the public at no cost by the government since its authorization by the FDA in December 2021. However, starting in 2024, Pfizer intends to sell Paxlovid directly to health insurers, coinciding with a declining demand for COVID vaccines and treatments nationwide.
This pricing decision has raised concerns among doctors, health experts, and patient advocates who fear that the higher cost may limit access to this life-saving treatment, known to reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID, particularly in vulnerable patients with conditions such as diabetes, heart ailments, or compromised immune systems.
Nonetheless, health insurance plans are expected to negotiate significantly lower prices than the $1,400 list price, resulting in minimal or no out-of-pocket expenses for patients. Pfizer has also stated its commitment to collaborating with payers to reduce copayments for patients.
Additionally, Pfizer has pledged to subsidize copayments for commercially insured individuals at least until 2028. A Pfizer spokesperson emphasized the company’s dedication to ensuring broad and equitable access to their medicines and working closely with payers to achieve the best formulary placement for Paxlovid, ultimately leading to lower out-of-pocket expenses for patients.
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In a related development, Pfizer anticipates a $7 billion reduction in revenue from Paxlovid compared to previous expectations, partly due to the return of doses designated for emergency use by the federal government. Consequently, Pfizer has revised its 2023 sales projections, now estimating them to be between $58 billion and $61 billion, down from the previous guidance of $67 billion to $70 billion. Pfizer attributes this adjustment solely to its COVID-related products.