Moderna CEO to appear before Senate panel as company prepares to quadruple price of COVID-19 vaccine

March 22 (UPI) — Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel faces a Senate panel on Wednesday over the drug maker’s plan to quadruple the cost of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Buncel is standing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders, D-Va, who will pressure the CEO over the company’s decision to raise price before the vaccine hits the commercial market this fall.

In January, Sanders sent a letter to Bansel urging him to reverse the price increase, stating that “the purpose of recent taxpayer investment in Moderna was to protect the health and lives of the American people, not to turn a handful of corporate executives and investors into multibillionaires.”

In February, the Sanders committee released a scathing report on profit compensation packages that have been paid to pharmaceutical executives throughout the pandemic.

Also last month, Moderna announced a new patient assistance program that provides free vaccines to all Americans, even after the US government formally lifted the public health emergency in May.

“As the public health emergency ends, the United States government will no longer provide free vaccines. Moderna remains committed to ensuring that people in the United States have access to our COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of ability to pay. pharmaceutical company said.

Prior to Buncel’s appearance, Sanders’ office released a statement alleging that the executive “became a billionaire during the pandemic after US taxpayers gave his company billions of dollars to research, develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.”

The federal government purchased millions of doses of vaccine from Moderna, which were provided to the public free of charge to contain the spread of the virus, with Moderna generating $102 billion in total procurement revenue in 2021, up 137% from the previous year. .

In recent interviews, Moderna president Stephen Hoge brushed aside criticism of imminent price hikes, noting that bringing a government-funded product to the commercial market was a risky and unprecedented business proposition for the company.

“This has literally never happened before. And so what we’re trying to do, as one of the many manufacturers in the field, is pick a price that we think reflects the value of the vaccine… but also reflects the difficulty of moving. from this pandemic market to the commercial market,” Hoge told Yahoo News.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer also announced plans to sell its vaccine for up to $130 per dose on the open market.

Earlier, Sanders urged Moderna not to raise the price of the vaccine, which he said costs the corporate giant $2.85 but would be out of reach for mainstream consumers at $130.

Other expert witnesses are also expected to testify at Wednesday’s hearing at Hart’s Senate office building on the impact of pricing, including several law and medicine professors from some of the nation’s top universities.

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