No matter where you come from, what you look like, or what’s in your wallet, our health and our lives are all at risk in this pandemic. And Big Pharma’s business practices are further endangering us by price gouging on critical medicines – even on drugs developed with our taxpayer dollars. Congress must take immediate action to stop pandemic profiteering and to ensure affordable and widespread access to vaccines and treatments as soon as they are available. That means Congress must:
Background Memo: Will COVID-19 Vaccines & Medicines Serve Profits or People?
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“It is simply remarkable and beyond dangerous that President Trump has so politicized the vaccine process to the point that drug corporations–the least trusted industry in America in America–are now the messengers on vaccine safety. It is the job of elected officials and government regulators, not corporations, to police safety for consumers. Yet, Donald Trump continues to prioritize his own narrow political goals over the needs of the American people, undermining public health and ignoring his responsibility as President.”
“The only way to beat a global pandemic is to get it under control everywhere, and that means we need vaccines that are safe, affordable and accessible to everyone. Instead of listening to public health experts about how to respond to a global pandemic, President Trump has repeatedly put politics ahead of our health, resulting in over 180,000 deaths and an economy in shambles.”
“Let’s be 100% clear on what is happening here: President Trump is putting his own political agenda and timeline ahead of science, reality and fact so he can create an ‘October Surprise’ and a vaccine before Election Day. Trump is not interested in the people’s health, he is only interested in the health of his re-election campaign. And in politicizing this process, he is putting public health at grave risk.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Lower Drug Prices Now released a new report, “Pandemic Profiteering: How Pharma Insiders Are Using News of Government Awards and Trial Results to Boost Their Stock Prices and Profiteer Without a Vaccine,” that shows how Big Pharma corporate executives and industry insiders are profiteering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report highlights how executives and insiders are using news of Operation Warp Speed contracts as well as clinical trial results to drive speculation, inflate stock prices and pocket hundreds of millions without any guarantee of a safe and effective vaccine.”
“The Trump administration has abandoned its responsibility to the American people, opting once again to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to a corporation that has refused to comply with basic disclosure requirements and has no proven track record. At a time when the public is desperate for a safe and successful vaccine, this administration continues to undermine the American people’s trust, handing over more of our tax dollars to corporations focused on inflating profits, not public health.”
This week U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to ensure that any taxpayer-funded vaccine or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) proven to be safe and effective will be accessible, affordable, and available to all individuals.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now today filed two additional ethics complaints [here and here] regarding COVID-19 vaccine czar Dr. Moncef Slaoui, following an initial complaint to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in May that resulted in no action.
“Moderna just admitted that its covid vaccine is 100% taxpayer-funded, only a week after comfortably stating before Congress that it plans to make a profit on a vaccine the American people have already paid nearly a billion dollars to develop. Moderna executives and insiders have already made $200 million off of the stock gains resulting from announcements of vaccine trials and government awards.”
The Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed has just awarded $2.1 billion — a record amount of taxpayer money — to Sanofi and GSK, pharmaceutical companies working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The head of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, holds $10 million of shares in GSK. Lower Drug Prices Now has filed an ethics complaint for how the Trump Administration has used a loophole to exempt Slaoui from disclosure rules.
On Sunday, Reuters reported that Operation Warp Speed candidate Moderna received an additional $472 million in funding from BARDA to develop its potential COVID vaccine. Following the announcement, Moderna saw shares increase 11.3% in premarket trading on Monday. US taxpayers total funding for the experimental vaccine of Moderna is now $955 million.
Statement from Margarida Jorge, campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now, on news that U.S. will pay $2 billion for Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses.
“Drug corporations are masterful at marketing. They recognize the current race for a COVID vaccine as a fantastic opportunity for free PR to redeem some of their tarnished brands. We expect in today’s subcommittee hearing that officials from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna and Pfizer will show up to position their companies as good-faith philanthropists wanting to save the day with a COVID vaccine. But the public knows there’s only one thing that motivates Big Pharma: more profits.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s House E&C Oversight subcommittee hearing Lower Drug Prices Now produced this memo with background on Operation Warp Speed, and the five drug corporations leading testifying at tomorrow’s hearing.
“The IG’s decision is extremely disappointing. Mr. Slaoui’s position is core to the government’s vaccine development efforts, and he should be just as accountable to the American people as any other government official. This administration has demonstrated a clear disregard for ethics and a willingness to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to their Pharma corporate cronies without transparency or accountability.”
“Senate Democrats are absolutely right: Americans need affordable COVID vaccines and treatments. And we’re glad that they’re pushing to use the government’s purchasing power to negotiate a ‘fair price’ for patients. But as long as drug corporations retain monopoly power to set and keep prices high, taxpayers will continue to foot the bill behind the scenes even if patients aren’t paying at the point of service.”
“Operation Warp Speed continues gambling away billions in taxpayer dollars. The Trump Administration, which is filled with former Pharma execs and lobbyists, just handed over another $1.6 billion to Novavax, a drug corporation that’s never successfully brought a product to market.”
“This news serves as a reminder that as the White House continues to hand over billions in taxpayer dollars for a coronavirus vaccine without a guarantee of affordability, Big Pharma continues to focus on its profits not patients,” said “American taxpayers are co-owners of this potential vaccine, but it’s only Moderna that’s reaping the profits — we foot the bill while they line their pockets.”
“It’s become clear that the only way we’re going to get COVID under control is through a safe, affordable and accessible vaccine. Yet, despite massive taxpayer investments into the development of remdesivir, and guarantees by the company that it will make the drug affordable, Gilead has decided to once again gouge patients.”
Front Page Live – 6/26/20
The COVID pandemic reminds us that we are all human, we can all get sick, and sometimes we all need prescription medications to feel better and take care of our families.
But for Big Pharma and all their friends in the Trump Administration, today’s crisis is just another chance to price gouge patients trying to stay healthy.
At Lower Drug Prices Now, we have uncovered the five big drug corporations addicted to price gouging and poised to profit off future COVID vaccines. While the Trump Administration is funneling them billions for research through secret contracts and special tax breaks, there is a growing army of people demanding that we hold Big Pharma accountable for inflating their profits at the expense of our health.
“Congress must block Big Pharma’s monopoly control to set prices for medicines developed with taxpayer dollars, especially during a pandemic that’s taken the lives of over 120,000 Americans to date. The time to end Big Pharma business as usual and pass long overdue reforms that increase transparency, accountability and affordability for patients is now.”
“A commitment to affordability that can’t be made on the record is just another hollow promise to the American people. Like so many things with this administration, this pledge is nothing more than empty rhetoric.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Lower Drug Prices Now joined nonpartisan ethics watchdog groups American Oversight and Accountable.US in filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for information on the pricing, cost and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines or treatment created by AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer.
“At the same time we’re handing billions in taxpayer dollars over to Big Pharma companies for COVID treatments and vaccines, no strings attached, they’re continuing with the same business-as-usual approach of gouging patients. How many times do the same companies have to prove that they can’t be trusted before we lawmakers take action to end Pharma companies’ monopoly control to charge patients any price they want?”
“For decades, these drug corporations have held the healthcare of billions of people hostage, lining their pockets to become the most profitable industry in the nation,” said Margarida Jorge, national campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now. “Apparently Dr. Fauci, a senior public health official responsible for our nation’s COVID response, believes that’s okay. Big Pharma should not be the ones deciding the cost of a vaccine, full stop.”
“Mergers and consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry is bad news for patients, and could prove even more harmful as demand for affordable COVID treatments and vaccines is bound to increase. Drug corporations already have monopoly control to charge patients inflated prices for prescription drugs in the past few years. Corporations like AstraZeneca and Gilead have historically used their monopoly power to price-gouge patents for necessary medicines, charging sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for a single treatment. “
Newsweek – 6/2/20
OPED by Cong. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Cong. Francis Rooney (R-FL)
Over the past decade, almost every new medication brought to market was paid for by a hefty investment from taxpayer dollars. Each of these drugs was developed in the interest of a greater public good: to alleviate pain, improve health and save lives. However, accountability for public funding has not prevented pharmaceutical corporations from hiking up prices on new and existing drugs for patients, increasing the cost of prescription drugs up to 10 percent every year.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump’s vaccine czar – who has extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry – should be subject to conflict of interest and disclosure rules, Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now said in a complaint filed today.
“At this point, we have to assume that conflicts of interest are a prerequisite to working in the Trump administration,” said Margarida Jorge, national campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now. “The Vice President’s Chief of Staff holds stock in the very prescription drug corporations receiving taxpayer funding for coronavirus treatments.”
WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of Merck & Co’s shareholder meeting, Lower Drug Prices Now joined with Merck shareholders, including Oxfam and the Oregon State Treasurer, to issue statements challenging the drug corporation’s record of price gouging and tax avoidance. Merck’s reliance on short-term schemes, such as using monopoly power to hike drug prices is particularly troubling since Merck is now developing a COVID vaccine with direct support from US taxpayers.
“It’s Groundhog Day. Another day, another drug corporation with a history of price gouging gets a massive gift of taxpayer dollars, no strings attached. Every taxpayer should be asking the Trump Administration why we are giving AstraZeneca over $1 billion for drugs that were developed with our tax dollars.”
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Washington – Today, the Lower Drug Prices Now coalition hosted a tele-town hall featuring Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore, former Representative Donna Edwards, Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, and Gary Mitchell, President of the Wisconsin Alliance of Retired Americans to demand affordable COVID drugs and accountability for drug corporations that are profiteering off of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today’s worldwide pandemic should remind us all that we are linked in an international economy where we may all be impacted by developments in nations thousands of miles away. The United States has had a long legacy of global leadership in many areas, but President Trump’s current posture on coronavirus medicines has so far been disappointing, both at home and abroad.”
“This White House seems to have an open spigot of taxpayer dollars going to drug corporations that profiteer off of pandemics. They’re gearing up to give the largest award in history to a corporate executive who quintupled the price of naloxone in the middle of the opioid epidemic. Yet again, the administration is handing over taxpayer dollars away to a drug corporation with no strings attached and no guarantee that we’ll get affordable access to the medicines developed with our money. Congress must step in and take action now.”
North Jersey – 5/19/20
A trio of advocacy organizations behind a state campaign for affordable drugs is calling on New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to investigate a San Francisco-based drug company after it tripled the price of a drug that could be used to treat coronavirus patients.
New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center and New Jersey Organizing Project on Tuesday asked Grewal’s office to investigate price gouging by Jaguar Health, a pharmaceutical company that produces the anti-diarrheal drug Mytesi.
WASHINGTON – Today, organizations representing 14 states in every region of the U.S. sent letters to their respective Attorneys General requesting that they investigate Jaguar Health’s recent attempts to profiteer off the coronavirus pandemic by tripling the price of the drug Mytesi. Grassroots leaders from across the progressive landscape joined together in a unified response to the actions of Jaguar Health: Big Pharma’s business as usual model must end with COVID.
“It should surprise absolutely no one that this White House has put a senior pharma executive in charge of coordinating COVID vaccines and treatments. This is deeply concerning. Once again, the Trump administration has put the fox in charge of the hen house.”
“This package focuses on the most immediate relief and recovery needs. We hope President Trump and Senate Leader McConnell will follow Speaker Pelosi’s lead and take swift action to help millions who desperately need it.”
Washington, DC — Nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight and the Lower Drug Prices Now coalition today filed four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for information on the development of coronavirus vaccines and the agency’s plans for making vaccines available to the public.”
WASHINGTON — Today, the Lower Drug Prices Now coalition co-hosted a press call following Eli Lilly’s shareholder meeting and in advance of Gilead’s to demand that COVID treatments developed with taxpayer dollars be affordable and accessible to all.
“This is great news. But based on Gilead’s record, we’re deeply concerned that they’ll use their monopoly control to price-gouge patients and make this potentially life-saving treatment unaffordable and inaccessible. Remdesivir was developed using tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, and should be made available at no additional cost.
Washington – Today, the Lower Drug Prices Now coalition co-hosted a telephone town hall to demand access to affordable COVID drugs for seniors and call on Big Pharma not to profiteer off of the coronavirus pandemic. Prescription drug costs have continued to skyrocket in the last decade, forcing many senior Americans to have to choose between medications they need to survive, and other everyday necessities.
Leaders Urge Congress To Take Action In Next Relief Bill To Ensure All Workers Get Low Cost COVID Medicines
Congressmen Chuy Garcia and Steven Horsford joined Lower Drug Prices Now and frontline workers for a tele-town hall urging Congress to guarantee affordable medicines and vaccines for workers by preventing pandemic profiteering by drug corporations that received taxpayer funds for developing COVID treatments.
New Jersey — Today, Lower Drug Prices Now coalition partners Health Care Voter, New Jersey Citizen Action, and New Jersey Organizing Project joined together to tell Johnson & Johnson not to profiteer off of the coronavirus pandemic.
Leaders Urge Congress To Take Action In Next Relief Bill To Ensure Drug Companies Can’t Exploit This Crisis
Former Senator Tom Harkin joined Lower Drug Prices Now, local groups and Iowans directly impacted by COVID-19, for a tele-town hall Tuesday at 6:00pm CT to urge Congress to take action to prevent pandemic profiteering by drug companies charged with developing COVID treatments and vaccines.
“What a surprise. It appears that Donald Trump’s obsession with pushing an untested, and potentially deadly drug, has more to do with his political health than the country’s health. This is exactly how the system works. Big Pharma uses campaign contributions and their armies of lobbyists to buy influence in Washington to advance their agenda and put their profits over our health. It is shameful and scandalous. And in this case, it may be deadly.”
“Johnson & Johnson’s promise to provide a future coronavirus vaccine on a ‘not-for-profit basis’ rings hollow. J&J has a record of promising not-for-profit prices on life-saving drugs, and then gouging patients for the same medicines later on. That’s why we know we can’t trust Johnson & Johnson not to profiteer on this one.”
Lower Drug Prices Now shared recommendations with the Presidential candidates on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure affordable treatments and vaccines for all.
“The explosive report in the New York Times showing that President Trump has financial ties to the company making a version of the experimental drug he is pushing raises serious ethical, moral and legal questions that need to be immediately investigated by Congress. Is Trump personally profiting from this crisis? Is he helping his buddies in the pharmaceutical industry profiteer from the pandemic? Given the all too cozy relationship that his administration has with Big Pharma, these questions need to be thoroughly investigated.”
WASHINGTON (March 26, 2020) – The United States Senate just passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill in response to the coronavirus crisis in the United States. The legislation includes provisions to support hospitals, small businesses and distressed companies caught in the public health and economic fallout from the pandemic.
Washington, DC (March 24, 2020) – Yesterday the Trump Administration gave the drug corporation Gilead Sciences special monopoly protection on the promising COVID-19 treatment Remdesivir, giving them a green light to price gouge on a desperately needed treatment.
WASHINGTON (March 20, 2020) – Since the start of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. the Lower Drug Prices Now Coalition has been sounding the alarm about potential Big Pharma price gouging if President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Azar fail to enact price control measures that ensure affordability.
(Des Moines, Iowa, March 18, 2020) — We hear a lot from national sources about the continuing needs, concerns and spread of the COVID-19 virus. Today we heard from real Iowans representing Iowa government, small business, healthcare, and senior communities about the effects in Iowa.
Washington (March 12, 2020) – President Trump announced a new pilot project to cap insulin costs at $35 a month for people with diabetes participating in Medicare Part D. However, the proposed initiative is voluntary for drug makers and insurers and includes no controls on prices or negotiating power.
WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, March 5 at 1pm, the Lower Drug Prices Now (LDPN) coalition, representing millions of Americans angered by Big Pharma’s price-gouging, will join Sen. Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Lloyd Doggett in demanding that President Trump and Secretary Azar guarantee that any coronavirus treatment or vaccine developed with taxpayer dollars be affordable for all.
WASHINGTON (March 3, 2020) – President Trump met with pharmaceutical corporate executives today about finding a vaccine and treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is approaching 90,000 infections worldwide and has killed six people in the United States.
Despite tremendous Congressional action in the past three weeks, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a huge toll on our families, our front-line workers and on the economy.
It’s clear Congress must take more action to ensure we can contain the disease, protect the workers we depend on for so many basic necessities, and put in place health care resources we need to help millions of people get or stay healthy.
Congress has already invested more than $3.7 billion in research to develop COVID drugs and vaccines. But so far, the Trump Administration has refused to guarantee that prescription drug corporations will make those medicines affordable. In fact, Big Pharma companies are already trying to profiteer off monopoly prices just as we’ve seen them do with insulin, Epi-Pens and many other prescription drugs.
It’s up to Congress to make sure our taxpayer dollars get us vaccines and treatments that we can all afford by stopping the drug corporations from profiteering off of today’s pandemic.
No matter where you come from, what you look like or what’s in your wallet, we could all get sick from the current pandemic. We all need affordable medicine to get healthy and to take care of our families.
The United States has a long legacy of effectively battling epidemics like measles, polio and rubella to save millions of lives. But vaccines and medicines can’t work if we can’t afford them because drug monopolies demand sky-high prices.
It’s time to get ahead of the curve. A long term plan to stop COVID-19 in its tracks requires that taxpayer funded treatments and vaccines we need to eradicate the disease will be available and affordable to all. Congress must take action now to stop pandemic profiteering, to ensure affordable and widespread access to vaccines and treatments as soon as they are available.