“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.”
Kaiser Health News – 7/15/20
Washington Post – 7/15/20
Monday’s ruling by the Office of Inspector General came in response to a complaint filed by the advocacy groups Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now.
Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now contend there is no basis in law for Slaoui to run Operation Warp Speed without being a full-time government employee or a “special government employee,” a designation that permits the government to tap outside people with unique expertise for up to 130 days.
New York Times, Noah Weiland – 7/15/20
“The basic idea that he’s in a really privileged position with lots of resources to command and that he has a personal financial stake in the industry is really challenging,” said Margarida Jorge, the campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now. “Everyone can appreciate that Slaoui has expertise in the development of vaccines, but expertise and ethics should not be mutually exclusive.”
Ms. Jorge said that her organization and other watchdog groups were planning to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss new ways to challenge Dr. Slaoui’s status.
POLITICO Pulse – 7/14/20
HHS INSPECTOR GENERAL DISMISSES COMPLAINT AGAINST VACCINE ADVISER — The government watchdog rejected a claim brought by Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now over the appointment of Moncef Slaoui to advise Operation Warp Speed. The groups had argued that Slaoui, who is serving as a private contractor, should be viewed as a political appointee, which would open him up to new disclosures and protections against conflict of interest.
Before being named to his Operation Warp Speed role, Slaoui was serving on the board of Moderna, the manufacturer of a leading vaccine candidate, and had other financial holdings flagged as conflicts by Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now.
Bloomberg Government – 7/14/20
Groups pushing for Congress to restrict what drugmakers can charge for Covid-19 vaccines and medicines said Democrats should go further than only trying to make them free. “If Congress doesn’t take away monopoly control over prices,” companies will still be able to hike prices and charge Medicare, Medicaid and insurers “exorbitant prices that get shifted to the rest of us” through premiums and taxes, said Margarida Jorge, campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now.
“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.”