Get ready for a big change in how the US pays for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to hold a meeting with drugmakers, pharmacies and state health officials later this month to discuss shifting coverage of pandemic therapies away from the U.S. government and to a commercial market.
Arpa Garay, MRNA from Moderna,
Chief Commercial Officer, told investors on a recent conference call that the company is already preparing for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine market.
“We are prepared for a shift to the US commercial market for COVID boosters, where the market will be more fragmented than it was during the pandemic, when the US government was the sole buyer of vaccines,” she said.
told investors last month that launching its COVID-19 products in a commercial market gives the company an opportunity to expand its distribution channels and run branding campaigns.
“All of these are things that Pfizer actually does, and Pfizer’s commercial organization is really good. That’s our sweet spot,” said Angela Hwang, Pfizer’s group president of biopharmaceuticals, during a conference call on the results in July. “We look forward to building on what the government has done truly excellently and building on doing more and supporting larger initiatives across the country.”
A major complication of changing how COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are paid for is figuring out how to ensure they continue to be available to the 30 million people in the US who do not have health insurance.
Another problem is that Medicare and Medicare do not pay for therapies that are available because of emergency permits. While the COVID-19 shots developed by BioNTech BNTX
/Pfizer and Moderna now fully approved, Merck MRK,
and Pfizer’s antivirals are not, the Journal reported.
Other COVID-19 news you should know:
→ The Food and Drug Administration plans to base its decision on approving a new generation of COVID-19 boosters on data from studies in mice — not humans, according to NPR. This approach is expected to speed up the arrival of the new shots. “For the FDA to rely on mouse data is just bizarre to me,” John Moore, an immunologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told NPR.
→ The World Health Organization on Thursday recommended Valneva’s VALN,
Two-dose COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged 18-50.
What the numbers say:
The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases Thursday was 96,275, the lowest number since June 21, according to a New York Times tracker. Only four states have seen cases rise since two weeks ago: Michigan by 15%; South Carolina up 10%; Tennessee, up 5%; and Mississippi by 1%. The daily average for hospitalizations stood at 41,256 on Thursday, down 6% from two weeks ago. The daily average for deaths is 475. —Tomi Kilgore