The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine will likely exceed $30 billion in 2021 alone. Pfizer shares its profits with its partner company—which means they are expecting at least $15 billion this year, bumping their total revenue next year to around $60 billion—one quarter of which will be accounted for by the vaccine. These sales will bring in a substantial profit for the company
According to one financial journalist “That would make it the second-highest revenue-generating drug anytime, anywhere.”
Pfizer has sold very small quantities to the global distribution body Covax and African Union “at cost,” which it claims to be about $6.75 per dose. They’ve sold more than three times the amount to high income countries (1.6 billion) as they have to the rest of the world (560 million), while tiny quantities have been sold to low income countries. The international distribution network Covax has managed to secure a mere 40 million.
In fact, experts have suggested these types of vaccines could cost as little as 60 cents to $2 per dose to make. However, Pfizer is selling to most countries at $19.50 per dose, supposedly a special pandemic price, but clearly one which allows the corporation to make a large profit. It seems clear prices will rise steeply once they decide the pandemic is “over.” A senior executive has suggested $150-175 per dose would be more "normal" pricing for a vaccine of this sort.
Pfizer and its lobbying body PhRMA were the top spending lobbyists in the US healthcare sector in the last 2 decades. They use the power lobbying gives them to promote and extend their rights of secrecy (‘data exclusivity’) over medical development and their monopoly protection which allows them to charge astronomical prices. They support the US government including higher levels of monopoly protection in new trade deals.
Pfizer and its British distributor hugely hiked the prices of anti-epilepsy drug phenytoin which 48,000 NHS patients relied upon. NHS expenditure on the drug rose from £2 million a year to £50 million in a single year, with the cost of 100mg packs rising from £2.83 to £67.50. Overall, UK wholesalers and pharmacies faced price hikes of between 2,300% and 2,600%.
In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion in a set of complex suits which included the company’s illegal marketing of arthritis drug Bextra, as well as giving kickbacks to doctors.
A whistleblower claimed that sales staff were incentivised to sell Bextra to doctors for medical conditions for which the drug wasn’t approved and at doses up to eight times those recommended.
“At Pfizer I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives. I couldn’t do that,” he stated.
The price of Pfizer’s pneumonia vaccines were 68 times more expensive in 2015 than in 2001. While Pfizer did reduce prices for the lowest income countries, MSF said the cost to vaccinate remained “roughly US$9 for each child to be vaccinated in the poorest countries, and as much as $80 per child for middle-income countries”.
MSF claimed Pfizer and GSK have earned over $50 billion for the drug, but “Today, 55 million children around the world still do not have access to the pneumonia vaccine, largely due to high prices.”