Moderna defends COVID-19 vaccine price hike before U.S. Senate

Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani joins the Live show to discuss Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel’s testimony before the U.S. Senate health committee.

Video transcript

BRAD SMITH: The CEO of Moderna is testifying before the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to help defend the health-care company's decision to charge $130 per dose of its COVID-19 vaccine once it hits commercial markets in May. Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani has the latest on this. Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Brad and Julie. Really listening in on that hearing just now. It has just started off. We've just gotten a little bit past opening statements, and the Moderna CEO really having to defend not only the NIH contribution to the development of the vaccine but also the decision then to increase the price as the company is going to be facing the commercial market now that it is off of, you know, the pandemic market and really leaning on the government for distribution of the vaccine and the initial development.

One interesting piece of information we got is that the company is looking at what would be a 90% reduction in demand based on what the pandemic market was, especially as we know the first round of doses and then that first round of boosters really was the driving force behind vaccine demand early on, not just from Moderna but also for Pfizer as well as Johnson & Johnson. As you see on your screen, the numbers of what has taken place over time, the known cost of production of those 10-dose vials as well as the government contribution there.

But what the company is saying right now is that in addition to this lowering demand, they're also facing an increase in costs, and that includes prefilled syringes or single-dose vials, and that is going to increase the cost of what they have to produce as well as distribute and ship out as well. So that's sort of where Moderna's case is.

Senator Bernie Sanders really coming down hard on the company for, you know, increasing prices on a product that taxpayers have contributed to. He did say in a letter previously that the recent taxpayer money was really to protect the American people, not to line the pockets of corporate executives, and he has tried to start that discussion about how, you know, all of this funding really did produce multimillionaires in the form of Moderna's CEO and the executives there.

So that's where things are right now. We're expecting this to become a pretty heated discussion as the day unfolds.

JULIE HYMAN: Yes, looking forward to seeing some clips of that and seeing what kind of questioning he gets. Thanks, Anjalee, for bringing us that. Appreciate it.