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Pfizer COVID antiviral more than doubles in price

The COVID-19 antiviral has been free to customers in the U.S. since it was first authorized in 2021. As it moves to the commercial market, its price tag is seeing a dramatic jump.

The federal government has so far been purchasing courses of Paxlovid at a discounted rate of $530. Pfizer on Thursday confirmed the commercial list price for its treatment will be $1,390.

 

The context:

  • The price was always expected to jump just as the price for COVID vaccines did when the federal government stopped subsidizing immunizations.
  • But that change wasn’t felt by many, as insurers were required to cover the shots at
    no cost
    as preventive services and provisions were made for uninsured people to receive free vaccines.
  • Unlike the vaccines, Paxlovid is not a preventive service and is prescribed after a SARS-CoV-2 infection has been confirmed.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services said last week that people on Medicare and Medicaid as well as uninsured individuals will still have access to free Paxlovid through the end of next year. Pfizer said Thursday it’s working with health care payers to facilitate a low out-of-pocket cost for patients.

 

AHIP, the trade association for health insurance companies, was none too happy with news of the price hike, saying “drug manufacturers continue to gouge the American public.”

 

“Health insurance providers will continue to cover medically appropriate drugs and will provide access to Paxlovid when appropriate,” the organization said regarding coverage.

 

Rounds of Paxlovid authorized under the original Emergency Use Authorization are still available for the time being, and these courses are available for free. While commercialization begins next month, Pfizer is anticipating commercialized Paxlovid to not become widespread until next year.

Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care newsletter, I’m Joseph Choi — every week we follow the latest moves on how Washington impacts your health.

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