The antiviral COVID-19 drug, Paxlovid, has been made available to U.S. consumers at no cost since its original authorization in 2021. As it enters the commercial market, the price has risen dramatically.
The government has been able to purchase Paxlovid courses at a discount of $530 off the regular price so far. On Thursday, Pfizer stated that the commercial list price of the medication will be $1,390.
Given the situation, an increase in cost was expected, much as the cost of COVID-19 vaccines after government subsidies were cut.
Health insurance companies were required by law to provide these vaccinations at no cost to their policyholders as a kind of preventative care, and safeguards were put in place to ensure that those without health insurance could still get the shots they needed at no cost.
Paxlovid, in contrast to vaccinations, is not a preventative measure and should only be taken if a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection exists.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said last Monday that anyone with Medicare, Medicaid, or no health insurance will have free access to Paxlovid through the end of 2024. On Thursday, Pfizer revealed it was working with multiple healthcare payers to reduce patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.
Concerned that “drug makers continue to abuse the American population,” the American Health Insurance Providers Association (AHIP) did not take the news of the price rise kindly.
According to the group, health insurance companies will continue to pay for drugs that are regarded medically fit and provide access to Paxlovid when it is deemed required.
Patients can now continue to get the unrestricted number of Paxlovid treatments allowed under the first Emergency Use Authorization at no additional expense. Pfizer anticipates that the drug will not be widely available until next year, although marketing of Paxlovid will begin the following month.