WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Moderna is facing intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill over its plan to hike vaccine costs once the federal government stops covering them.
When the COVID national emergency order ends and the government runs out of its vaccine stockpile, Americans will have to cover the price of their own shots.
In a hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers grilled Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel about the company’s plans to price its vaccine around $130 per dose.
“They are thanking the taxpayers of the United States by proposing to quadruple the price of the covid vaccine,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said.
Senators pointed out that the government spent nearly $2 billion to help Moderna develop the vaccine. Then the company and its executives made billions in profit.
“We are looking at an unprecedented level of corporate greed,” Sanders said.
Sen. Bill Cassidy agreed that the new costs of the vaccine are a concern. But he warned against shaming Moderna for making money from their lifesaving work.
“A hostile signal to future prospective partners that if you do something and you do it well, and you profit after it happens, we may come right back at you,” Cassidy said.
Bancel said there are good reasons for the price increase, including an expected drop in demand along with more complex production and sales in an open marketplace.
“We must assume the waste risk and cost that the U.S. government used to assume,” Bancel said.
Plus, he says the company is working on a plan to help uninsured people access the vaccines.
“We are committed to ensuring anyone who wants a vaccine can get one,” he added.
But Sanders insists this is part of a larger problem.
“People are getting sicker and in some cases dying, because they cannot afford the outrageous cost of prescription drugs. While these companies make huge profits,” Sanders said.