Thursday, June 11, 2020
Groups FOIA HHS seeking information on drug pricing and affordability from agreements with AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer
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.
The requests seek the release of written agreements and communications between HHS officials and pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer, all of which have recently entered into agreements with HHS regarding the development of coronavirus vaccines and received taxpayer dollars to expedite the process. The requests specifically ask for records related to pricing, cost, and affordability of any coronavirus vaccines or treatments created.
These requests follow similar FOIA requests last month to Johnson & Johnson and Moderna – the remaining of the five finalists reportedly chosen by the White House’s Operation Warp Speed for additional government funding and support. A FOIA request was also filed seeking the federal government’s agreement to provide funding to Emergent BioSolutions.
“Taxpayer-funded treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 won’t help people if they can’t afford it,” said Margarida Jorge, campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now. “But right now, the public has no way to know what’s in these secret multi-million dollar contracts between the drug corporations and the Trump administration. Therefore, there’s no accountability that COVID vaccines developed with our tax dollars will be affordable for everyone who needs them.”
“The public has no insight into the deals that the Trump administration has cut with these pharmaceutical giants,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Taxpayers are footing the bill without any assurance that the vaccine will be affordable. These requests seek to ensure that the Trump administration isn’t selling out the average American.”
“People deserve to know if the Trump Administration negotiated strong affordability guarantees in return for the billions of taxpayer dollars they are handing to drug companies or if Secretary Azar simply rolled over and handed his former Big Pharma colleagues a blank check,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Accountable.US’s Patients Over Pharma campaign. “Vaccines developed with taxpayer support should be affordable and accessible to every American, and the Trump Administration needs to get that in writing and not give drug companies another opportunity for price gouging and profiteering.”
Today’s requests are available here:
Lower Drug Prices Now is a national coalition of nearly 60 social, racial and economic justice organizations with members in all 50 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 ldpndev.wpengine.com and follow us on Twitter @peopleb4pharma.