Pfizer, Merck Trim Prices in China for Paxlovid, Molnupiravir: Reports

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Pfizer and Merck have slightly lowered the prices of their respective Paxlovid and molnupiravir COVID-19 treatments in China, local media reported on Tuesday citing pricing information published by the province of Jiangsu.

Pfizer cut the price of Paxlovid by about 100 yuan ($14.54) to 1,790 per box of 30 pills, while Merck trimmed the price of a 40-capsule bottle of its oral treatment molnupiravir by 74 yuan to 1,426 yuan, financial news outlet Yicai reported. The treatments are meant for high-risk people with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

Jiangsu authorities published the pricing information on Friday and the new prices took effect from Saturday.

Pfizer and Merck did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The moves come after China adjusted its medical insurance coverage policy for COVID-19 treatments as a massive wave of cases that hit the country following the abrupt lifting of its zero-COVID policy in early December recedes.

Previously, under a temporary policy China enacted for COVID-19 treatments, insured patients only needed to pay 10% of the price for Paxlvoid and Merck. That policy expired on March 31, meaning they now need to pay full price.

Paxlovid was among the most sought-after remedies during the height of China’s infection wave, with boxes of the treatment changing hands for as much as 50,000 yuan via underground channels, according to local media reports and social media posts.

China earlier this year said that talks with Pfizer on whether to include Paxlvoid in an update to its list of medicines covered by basic medical insurance schemes failed as authorities and the company were unable to agree on the price.

($1 = 6.8780 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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