Wednesday, May 6, 2020
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.
The requests ask for the release of written agreements and communications between HHS officials and pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, both of which have recently made agreements with HHS regarding the development of a coronavirus vaccine and received taxpayer dollars to expedite the process. The requests specifically ask for records that reflect parameters on pricing, cost, and affordability of any coronavirus vaccines or treatments created.
“The successful development of a vaccine for COVID-19 won’t help people if they can’t afford the medicine,” said Margarida Jorge, national director of Lower Drug Prices Now. “These records will help us to see what HHS officials are doing to ensure that new vaccines— which have been funded largely using taxpayer dollars — are affordable to everyone who needs them at low or no cost.”
“The public needs absolute transparency about the deals the Trump administration is striking with pharmaceutical companies in the name of the American people,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “The risks of selling out the public are high when officials are under extreme pressure to deliver and dealing with companies with deep lobbying benches.”
From the start of this crisis, Lower Drug Prices Now has urged lawmakers to stop pandemic profiteering, make coronavirus testing and treatment affordable, and ensure that vaccines are available to everyone regardless of their financial standing. Additional information on the #NoPandemicProfiteering campaign is available here.
These latest FOIAs follow more than 400 public records requests that American Oversight has filed with federal and state government agencies to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. More information on this investigation is available here.
Today’s requests are available here: https://www.americanoversight.org/document/foia-to-hhs-seeking-coronavirus-vaccine-development-contracts-with-janssen-pharmaceutica
Lower Drug Prices Now is a national coalition of nearly 60 social, racial and economic justice organizations with members in all fifty states. We are committed to transformative, systemic and bold reforms to ensure everyone has access to affordable medicines — no matter where they live, what they look like or how much money they have. Learn more at www.lowerdrugpricesnow.org and follow us on Twitter @peopleb4pharma.
American Oversight is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit ethics watchdog and is the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration. American Oversight has filed more than 100 public records lawsuits since March 2017, uncovering and publishing tens of thousands of documents exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, and misuse of taxpayer resources at the highest levels of the government. In 2019, American Oversight launched its State Accountability Project to investigate voter suppression and has filed dozens of records requests in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at http://www.americanoversight.org.