Pfizer doubles the price of its COVID-19 drug (Baxlovid)


Pfizer doubles the price of its COVID-19 drug (Baxlovid) as the United States transitions from the pandemic phase.

The price of the life-saving antiviral coronavirus drug Baxlovid will more than double as the United States emerges from the emergency phase of the pandemic, pharmaceutical company Pfizer said on Wednesday.

The list price, before insurance, will be $1,390 for the five-day course, Pfizer said in a statement. This is 2.6 times higher than the $530 per cycle paid by the U.S. government, which provided free Baxlovid to patients during the pandemic. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the new price.

Pfizer noted that the list price "does not necessarily reflect the price a patient will pay" and said it is working to secure health insurance arrangements with low out-of-pocket costs for patients. The company also said it would offer payment assistance to eligible people, which could cut their out-of-pocket costs to nothing.

The U.S.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said last week that people who have Medicare Medicaid or are uninsured can get Paxlovid for free through 2024 through the Patient Assistance Program. Pfizer said this program will extend through 2028 for uninsured or "underinsured" patients.

The change in list prices comes as the United States moves from a system in which the government buys the drug and provides it free to everyone to a more traditional commercial market. Baxlovid will remain free to patients through this scheme until the end of the year.

Prices for COVID-19 vaccines also rose as they went through a similar transition to the commercial market, rising nearly fourfold to between $115 and $130 per dose. One financial analyst estimated a similar potential increase, three to five times, for Baxlovid, which would have raised its list price to $2,500.

Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research Institute, called the potential increase "price gouging" when CNN reported on Pfizer's plans to raise the cost this week.

"It's hard to call it good news," Topol wrote in an email to CNN on Wednesday, adding that the increase was only 2.6 times. He and other doctors have warned that increasing the price of Paxlovid would prevent people from getting the drug.

Pfizer said that Baxlovid "was a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19, helping to treat millions of high-risk patients across the United States and worldwide."

The new price "is based on the value it provides to patients, providers, and healthcare systems given its important role in helping reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19," the company said.

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