MUMBAI: As the Covid-19 vaccine completes its journey from laboratory to hospital, its pricing is being questioned. Public well being activists and trade specialists to whom TOI spoke stated the federal government’s purchases of Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines had been “overpriced”.
The proposed MRP of Rs 1,000 per dose of the vaccine within the personal market has additionally raised eyebrows.
The authorities procurement worth of Rs 200 per dose for Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute, is larger than what the EU is alleged to be paying. The EU is paying euro 1.78 per dose (practically Rs 159) for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, based on a leaked doc posted on Twitter by Belgium’s price range state secretary lately (see field).
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin authorities buy worth of Rs 295 has additionally raised eyebrows because the vaccine continues to be in “clinical trial” mode and, subsequently, lacks essential Phase 3 trial knowledge, specialists identified. Globally, drug and vaccine costs have been carefully guarded industrial secrets and techniques. The pandemic has highlighted the necessity for better transparency and fairness.
What has shocked public well being specialists is that the worth is larger in India, which has one of many lowest manufacturing prices. “The government should have negotiated a better price and should be offering the vaccine to everyone free. The cost should be around Rs 100 with the economies of scale that kick in. Even with a small margin, possibly (they) are paying Rs 50-60 more. There is no clear commitment from the government yet on vaccinations beyond the priority group, with the implication that the state will have to pitch in,” stated S Srinivasan of All-India Drug Action Network, an NGO that works to extend entry.
“The government can demand transparency from companies — in terms of cost of production, terms of licensing, and such details. The profit margin cannot be unreasonable — four to five times the public sector price,’’ Leena Menghaney, a lawyer specialising in public health, told TOI.
When contacted, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said, “Nobody is giving it for less than Rs 200 on this planet. We have charged a reasonable price, with a small margin. The vaccine at Rs 2,000 (proposed MRP for both doses for private purchase) saves households from huge hospitalisation costs. Going forward, there will be a tendering process in India for further orders” . Serum has set a ceiling worth of $3 per dose for low- and middle-income nations for the vaccine to be distributed underneath the Covax alliance. “Why is there a differential price? Though it is difficult to know the right price as the manufacturing cost is not known, the vaccine can be mass produced at a cheap price. The government could have negotiated a better rate through ICMR, which co-sponsored the trials and supported Covishield’s R&D in the bridging studies done here,” stated Dr Anant Bhan, a researcher and a former president of International Association of Bioethics.
The authorities had on January 12 stated that each the vaccines are reasonably priced as a result of they’re made in India.