It’s been a rough year for Big Pharma. You know all the stories, huge drug price hikes, exclusions, rate increases on prescription drugs … endless headlines turning the public image of the average drug company into some kind of Mad Max post-apocalyptic wasteland. One drug company appears tired of taking it on the chin.
Pfizer is ready to see some good headlines, and their recent announcement is certainly a step in the right direction. The drug maker said it would reduce the charges charity groups pay for its incredibly effective vaccine against pneumonia, ear infections, and certain blood-borne infections.
The sales price of the drug in question, Prevnar 13, when being used for humanitarian aid in refugee and emergency settings, is being slashed to just over $3 per dose. That’s a huge break for international nonprofits working with refugees in war-torn areas as well as survivors in areas hit by terrible natural disasters.
It’s also something orgs like Doctors Without Borders have been requesting for nearly a decade. For years, Pfizer refused to lower the price of the drug, preferring instead to make tax-deductible donations to DWB and other international charity efforts.
That’s easy to understand. That single product brings a whopping $5 billion in revenue annually for Pfizer. Who wants to cut into such a reliable income stream when you don’t have to?
Well, times have changed. Drug makers desperately need something to work for them. The steady stream of bad news has turned them into persona non grata with American consumers. It’s not just indifference. People are demonstrably disgusted with the actions of certain leaders of certain drug companies. Unfortunately for the industry, that bad behavior spreads the negative perception far and wide. The entire industry suffers a loss of consumer confidence thanks to the high profile bad news.
DWB called the move a step in the right direction. Industry watchers called it a response to a line in the sand drawn by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, which dropped the price of it’s comparable drug to about $3 earlier this year.
So, yes, Pfizer had a market reason to cut its price, but it also had a strong PR motivation to do some good for its brand in the States and in the wider international marketplace. There’s certainly a lot of need out there, and now Pfizer is helping nonprofit groups more efficiently meet that need.