Thursday, April 08, 2021

Pfizer And Moderna Looking To Get PAID For Their mRNA Therapeutics...,

theintercept  |  Pfizer, Moderna, and other coronavirus vaccine makers have said repeatedly that they intend to hike prices on vaccines as early as this year, as the potential need for additional booster shots and future demand could lead to an unprecedented financial windfall.

One estimate projects that if Pfizer raised the price of its coronavirus vaccine from $19.50 to $175 per dose, as one Pfizer executive recently suggested, and if every adult American were to take it, the cost would be $44.7 billion — nearly 10 percent of all U.S. drug spending.

But the federal government, which funded crucial biomedical research to develop the patented messenger RNA technology behind the leading Covid-19 vaccines, is on the verge of eliminating a legal mechanism to control the prices of key medical products, including vaccines. 

Next week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, will wrap up a comment period to modify the rules governing the Bayh-Dole Act, a law that regulates the transfer of federally funded inventions into commercial property. Under the current interpretation of the law, the government may “march in” and suspend the use of patents developed via government-funded inventions if it determines that the products are excessively priced.

The rulemaking is the latest flashpoint in a decades long battle to control drug prices. The drug industry has fought successfully to prevent “march-in” rights in the past; the government has never managed to exercise them. But over the last year, a growing number of Republicans and Democrats, including newly appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Beccera, have called for the use of march-in rights to rein in drug prices.

This supposed leverage to control prices — on coronavirus medications and dozens of other drugs whose development relied heavily on government-backed research — would be gone if the rule-change proceeds.