Pharmaceutical industry official says vaccine will be affordable

A lab technician sorts blood samples for COVID-19 vaccination study at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida on August 13, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Don’t worry. Future COVID-19 vaccinations will be affordable and available.

That was the message that Lori M. Reilly, chief operating officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, delivered Tuesday during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum.

“We know that for many people, they are nervous about their ability to access an affordable treatment or vaccine,” Reilly said. “And I want to assure you that we are working with governments and payers to ensure that when new vaccines for COVID-19 are approved, that they will be affordable and available for patients that need them. Companies have a strong track record of pricing responsibly during pandemics. And we don't expect affordability will be a problem at this time.”

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Reilly said that in the last six months the industry she represents has “literally been working around the clock” to combat the virus through the development of new diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.

Reilly pointed to more than 1,500 clinical trials --- including 80 taking place in Florida --- involving several different types of vaccines. President Donald Trump wanted to have a COVID-19 vaccine available to the public by Election Day, which likely won’t happen. But Reilly said the pharmaceutical industry has made great progress in tackling the pandemic.

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“And we've done it as quickly and safely as possible,” she said.

Reilly attributed the speed of progress to a combination of factors, including scientific advances on viruses like Ebola and hepatitis C and a willingness among companies to share resources, research, and technologies.

“While our companies are traditionally competitors in the market, they share a common goal as it relates to COVID-19, and that is beating this virus,” she said. “Partnerships in the past that would have taken months to plan and formalize are now coming together in the matter of weeks.”