COVID vaccines are expected to be among the most lucrative pharmaceutical products of all time: NPR

COVID vaccines are expected to be among the most lucrative pharmaceutical products of all time: NPR

How much money did Pfizer and Moderna make from their COVID-19 vaccines? They are developing into the most lucrative pharmaceutical products of all time.


The COVID-19 vaccines are making big money for the pharmaceutical industry. And although millions of people around the world still need to be vaccinated and promoted, it is not exactly clear how long the boom will last. MediaFrolic pharmacy correspondent Sydney Lupkin reports.

SYDNEY LUPKIN, BYLINE: Pfizer expects to raise $ 36 billion from global sales of its COVID-19 vaccine this year. That would break the previous record in annual sales for a single pharmaceutical product – about $ 20 billion for the anti-inflammatory drug Humira – and make the Pfizer vaccine the best-selling pharmaceutical product of all time. Moderna will deliver fewer doses but still expects annual sales of up to $ 18 billion for its COVID-19 vaccine. But the long-term measure of the financial success of the companies’ mRNA vaccines is not that straightforward. This is Richard Evans of SSR Health, an investment research firm.

RICHARD EVANS: The benchmark, Humira, has been producing tens of billions of dollars a year for several years. And it’s not entirely clear if the mRNA vaccines will.

LUPKIN: Evans says just because Pfizer and Moderna are now selling billions of cans doesn’t mean it will last forever. The vaccines could work so well that they no longer need any further boosters, although it’s also possible that COVID shots, like flu shots, could become routine. Still, Evans says the uncertainty is now putting a premium on maximizing sales.

EVANS: Any vaccine manufacturer will recognize that there is a risk of a very short life cycle. And so, you know, it would obviously be preferable to the manufacturer to make more money up front.

LUPKIN: That’s because what companies spend to make personnel and equipment that specialize in the mRNA vaccines that may not be able to be used in other products. But figuring out the exact cost is difficult.

EVANS: Unfortunately there are so many moving parts that it is almost impossible – probably impossible – to untangle them.

LUPKIN: Moderna received a lot of government funding to offset costs and minimize risks. But the COVID-19 vaccine is the only product on the market. Pfizer, on the other hand, did not accept early government investment and covered much of those up-front costs itself. But it has dozens of other products in its portfolio that it makes and will continue to make after the pandemic is over. Meanwhile, the company just signed a more than $ 5 billion deal with the Biden government for its COVID-19 pill.

Sydney Lupkin, MediaFrolic News.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

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