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Why Are Pfizer and Moderna Jacking Up COVID Vaccine Prices?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Aug 13, 2021 at 6:15AM

Key Points

  • Pfizer and Moderna have increased their COVID-19 vaccine pricing in recent EU deals, according to the Financial Times.
  • Continued strong demand and relatively limited supply for the vaccines paved the way for these price hikes.
  • Over the longer term, an increased supply of vaccines should cause prices to decline.

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We're seeing the laws of supply and demand at work.

Both Pfizer (PFE 0.73%) and Moderna (MRNA -0.58%) are increasing the prices they charge for their COVID-19 vaccines, according to a recent Financial Times report. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Aug. 4, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss why these companies are jacking up the prices for their COVID-19 vaccines.

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Keith Speights: We talked about this briefly on Monday, Brian, but a Financial Times article said that Pfizer has increased its COVID-19 vaccine price by more than 25%, while Moderna has raised its vaccine price by more than 10%, and both of these are in recent EU supply deals.

Brian, what's going on here with these price hikes? Do you think the vaccines are likely to get more or less expensive over time?

Brian Orelli: It would seem this is just general supply and demand. The EU has a strong demand and the mRNA vaccine companies have a limited supply. When demand is strong and supply is low, then prices get raised.

It should be noted that while Pfizer took a bigger jump there on the percentage basis, it started reportedly at a lower base. The new figures still have Moderna getting more per shot than Pfizer's. The reported amounts were $25.50 for the Moderna now and $23.19 for Pfizer and BioNTech (BNTX 4.29%).

The price jump is certainly good news for the companies now, but I don't see how it's going to last long-term with so many other vaccines in development. They're definitely going to increase the supply as are the companies that have already gained Emergency Use Authorization and that should decrease the prices over time, if we are talking about using these vaccines in future years, 2023-2024 range.

Speights: No matter what products you're talking about, cars, TVs, computers, and vaccines, the laws of supply and demand do work over time.

Orelli: A lot of times for branded drugs, there's only one drug. Then the company doesn't have to be competing against anybody else. But once you start getting multiple companies that are selling drugs that are very similar, now there's some price competition between the two.

Speights: You and I were just talking about Novavax (NVAX 0.60%) getting a 200 million-dose supply deal with the European Union. The more doses that are available, the more price pressure there is.

I think the one dynamic to watch obviously is the variants here. While there's plenty of supply right now, if the vaccines that are currently available are rendered significantly less effective or ineffective against new variants that might emerge, then you have to erase the board. Because then it's a matter of which company can come out with a vaccine that is effective and you start right from scratch with the supply demand curve.

Orelli: Exactly.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Stock Quote
$49.57 (0.73%) $0.36
Novavax Stock Quote
$16.64 (0.60%) $0.10
Moderna Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna Inc.
$175.38 (-0.58%) $-1.02
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$161.49 (4.29%) $6.64

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