WASHINGTON, DC — During today’s Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, five drug company executives failed to promise their companies would not make a profit on COVID-19 vaccines. In response, Ben Wakana, the executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, issued the following statement:
“Big Pharma’s not-for-profit pledge turned out to be a PR stunt. Further scrutiny reveals it to be time-limited, dose-limited, and geographically limited. Those conditions assure an unfettered profit for drug corporations. The lesson from today’s hearing is important and unsurprising: Drug corporations plan to profit from COVID-19 vaccines and treatments that were developed with taxpayer funding. It’s time for Congress to put guardrails in place to stop corporations from profiteering during a pandemic.”
The Washington Post // Yasmeen Abutaleb // July 21, 2020
During a hearing with pharmaceutical company executives over efforts to develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, the five executives testifying did not promise to offer a vaccine for free or that they would not profit from it.
In response to questions about pricing their vaccines, most company executives refused to commit to not making a profit on it, or they said they would not make a profit in a specific contract or during the pandemic — rather than making any sort of long-term pledge on pricing.
“We recognize these are extraordinary times, and our pricing will reflect that during the time of the pandemic. We’ll price our potential vaccine consistent with the urgent global health emergency that we’re facing,” said John Young, chief business officer of Pfizer, adding that he felt strongly the vaccine should be free to the public.
Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals at AstraZeneca, said the company had agreed to provide 300 million doses to the United States through its $1.2 billion agreement with BARDA at no profit.
The price consumers will pay for a vaccine and therapeutics for the coronavirus has been a point of frequent discussion among congressional lawmakers and at hearings related to the pandemic response. Taxpayers are footing a significant part of the bill for the country’s vaccine development and treatment research, and several lawmakers have raised concerns that pharmaceutical companies will profit during the pandemic.