Hyderabad-based vaccine-manufacturing company Bharat Biotech on Tuesday said that the cost of one dose of Covaxin, the covid vaccine developed by it, is not viable.
In a statement, the company said that Rs 150, the rate at which the Indian government is selling the vaccine to the public, is a non-competitive price and is “clearly not sustainable in the long run”. It added that the price of the vaccine should be different for the government entities and private markets, implying that the price in the private markets should be higher
The company added that vaccines are something that is provided free of cost to the public by the government, hence, the private markets don’t need to procure them.
“Fundamental business reasons ranging from low procurement volumes, high distribution costs and retail margins among few others contribute to higher pricing of Covaxin,” Bharat Biotech said justifying the higher price when compared to other COVID-19 vaccines available for the private sector in India.
“The supply price of Covaxin to the government of India at ₹ 150 / dose, is a non-competitive price and clearly not sustainable in the long run. Hence a higher price in private markets is required to offset part of the costs,” it said, giving examples of other pharmaceutical products which are available at differential pricing.
“There are live examples of such pricing policies where Human Papillomavirus vaccine is priced for GAVI supplies at approximately $4.5 (about Rs 320) per dose but is also available in the private market at about Rs 3,500 per dose. Rotavirus vaccines are supplied to the government of India at about Rs 60 per dose, but it is also available in the private market for Rs 1,700 per dose. The prices of Covid-19 vaccines internationally have varied between $10 and $37 (about Rs 730 to Rs 2,700) per dose,” it added.
“In our view, the question of product pricing is only of extraneous interest to all concerned, especially when the same vaccine is made available free of cost,” the statement added.
The manufacturer said it had so far invested over Rs 500 crore “from its own resources” for product development, clinical trials and setting up of manufacturing facilities, and the price at which the government was buying the doses was not commensurate to the investment.