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Bernie Blasts 'Unacceptable Corporate Greed' As Moderna Mulls 4X Price Hike for COVID Vax

Analysis  |  By John Commins  
   January 11, 2023

Quadrupling the price of COVID-19 vaccine would make it too expensive for millions of Americans, the Vermont Independent says.

Railing against "unacceptable corporate greed," U.S. Senate firebrand Bernie Sanders is warning the billionaire executives at Moderna to "reconsider and refrain" from rumored plans to quadruple the price of their COVID-19 vaccine.

In a letter this week to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Sanders, I-VT, the incoming chairman of the powerful Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, expresses alarm about media reports that the drug maker will raise the price of its COVID-19 vaccine by as much as $110 to $130 per dose, more than four times the $26.36 cost that the federal government paid.

Sanders says the price hike is "particularly offensive" because the federal government directly provided $1.7 billion to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine research and development, and guaranteed the company billions more in sales. 

"The huge increase in price that you have proposed will have a significantly negative impact on the budgets of Medicaid, Medicare and other government programs that will continue covering the vaccine without cost-sharing for patients. Your decision will cost taxpayers billions of dollars," Sanders says in his letter.

"Your outrageous price boost will also increase private health insurance premiums. Perhaps most significantly, the quadrupling of prices will make the vaccine unavailable for many millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans who will not be able to afford it. How many of these Americans will die from COVID-19 as a result of limited access to these lifesaving vaccines?"

Moderna did not respond Wednesday to HealthLeaders' request for comment.

Sanders cites estimates that the cost of producing the vaccine is about $2.85 per dose – 2.2% of what Moderna plans to charge. At the same time, he notes that Moderna has pocketed more than $19 billion in profits off of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Top executives at Moderna have become billionaires off vaccine profits, Sanders notes, citing a Forbes estimates that Bancel is worth  $6.1 billion, Moderna Chairman / Co-founder Noubar Afeyan is worth $2.1 billion; Co-founder Robert Langer is worth $2.2 billion; and founding investor Timothy Springer is worth $2.6 billion.

"Further, my understanding is that Moderna approved a $926 million golden parachute for you once you leave the company along with $160 million for Stephen Hoge (Moderna's president) and $53 million for Juan Andres (Moderna's chief technical officer)," Sanders writes. "The purpose of the recent taxpayer investment in Moderna was to protect the health and lives of the American people, not to turn a handful of corporate executives and investors into multi-billionaires."

Sanders says the "profiteering has taken place in the midst of the worst public health crisis in America in 100 years," with COVID-19 claiming 1.1 million Americans over the past three years, and sickening more than 100 million others. 

"Now, in the midst of a continuing public health crisis and a growing federal deficit, is not the time for Moderna to be quadrupling the price of this vaccine," he writes. "Now is not the time for unacceptable corporate greed."

“Now is not the time for unacceptable corporate greed.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


In a letter to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Sanders expresses alarm about reports that the drug maker will raise the price of its COVID vax between $110 to $130 per dose, more than four times the $26.36 cost that the federal government paid.

Sanders says the price hike is 'particularly offensive' because the government provided $1.7 billion to Moderna's vaccine research and development and guaranteed the company billions more in sales.

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