J&J foresees end to not-for-profit sales of coronavirus vaccine

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Source: Biopharma Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Johnson & Johnson expects to shift away from selling its coronavirus vaccine on a not-for-profit basis by the end of next year or early in 2023, a top executive at the drugmaker said Tuesday.
  • J&J has sold its vaccine at a not-for-profit price of between $5 and $8 per dose since winning regulatory clearances for what's currently a one-shot regimen. But with the focus shifting to booster doses in the U.S. and as J&J pursues full regulatory approvals, the pharma plans to transition toward for-profit sales.
  • "As we move into more of a booster market in later '22, potentially into 2023, we'd be looking at moving into more of a commercial market," said Jennifer Taubert, head of the company's pharma division, on a Tuesday conference call presenting J&J's third quarter earnings.

Dive Insight:

J&J has recorded far fewer sales of its coronavirus vaccine than competitors Pfizer and Moderna, partly due to its not-for-profit pricing but also to a series of manufacturing and clinical setbacks that resulted in its shot becoming much less used in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Through the first nine months of 2021, J&J earned $766 million in revenue from its vaccine. But the company expects sales this year will total $2.5 billion, anticipating supply contracts that will be fulfilled during the fourth quarter.

Pfizer, by comparison, had forecast in July more than $33 billion in 2021 sales of its coronavirus vaccine, which costs about $39 in high-income countries for the full two-dose regimen. Moderna expects its supply agreements for this year to be worth about $20 billion.

J&J, like AstraZeneca in the U.K., previously committed to selling its vaccine at a not-for-profit price through the pandemic, but did not specify how it would determine the pandemic's end.

A company spokesperson confirmed that J&J expects not-for-profit sales to continue through the end of this year or into early next year.

"After that period, we would assess the need for a commercial model," the spokesperson added. "We have not shared anything yet on commercial pricing or what the model would look like. Pricing would, of course, follow our normal model that ensures fair access globally."

J&J recorded revenue from vaccines sales during the first half of the year at a price of about $5 per dose. Measured through the end of the third quarter, the price came out several dollars higher, to $7.50 per dose, a company executive said on Tuesday's conference call. 

In the U.S., an advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration last week recommended offering a second dose of J&J's vaccine to adults over 18 who had previously received the shot, citing evidence it could boost protection higher. A decision from the agency is expected this week. 

The FDA is also considering whether to authorize mixing booster doses, so a J&J vaccine recipient could receive a second shot of Pfizer's or Moderna's vaccines, for example. 

On Tuesday, J&J also reported overall third quarter sales of $23.3 billion, slightly below Wall Street's forecasts. Shares rose by 3% in Tuesday morning trading, however. 

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