A trio of watchdog groups are calling for the federal government to publicly release copies of the coronavirus vaccine development contracts signed with pharmaceutical companies that have received federal funding. American Oversight, Accountable Pharma, and Lower Drug Prices Now today filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting the release of the contracting records.
The requests ask for the release of written agreements between HHS and DOD and the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, and Novavax. American Oversight and Lower Drug Prices Now have previously submitted six requests related to coronavirus vaccine development (May 6, June 11), only two of which have received responses — both of which were heavily redacted (Moderna, Johnson & Johnson).
“The American people continue to be the primary investors in Operation Warp Speed, whether this administration chooses to acknowledge it or not,” said Margarida Jorge, national director of Lower Drug Prices Now. “For those outside the White House’s inner circle, it is the health and safety of our families and loved ones at stake in the development of this vaccine, not the enrichment of corporate shareholders and industry insiders. After billions in taxpayer investments, Americans deserve transparency about whether the administration has required affordable vaccines in the numerous multi-million dollar contracts it has entered into over the last six months.”
“It is absurd that billions of dollars have been poured into drug company coffers and taxpayers still have no idea what the Trump Administration has been negotiated on their behalf, what assurances we have that vaccines will be affordable and accessible, and what protections are included if drug companies pocket the money, their executives cash out their stock options, and they don’t produce a safe and effective vaccine,” said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Accountable Pharma.
“From day one of this pandemic, the Trump administration has consistently misled the American people while playing favorites behind the scenes,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “If a vaccine is going to be successful, the public needs to be able to trust that these multi-billion dollar contracts aren’t just another political stunt or corporate handout.”
The requests specifically ask for written agreements created with drug companies, including Pfizer and BioNTech, which together received $1.95 billion in funding, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, which together received $2.04 billion in funding, and Novavax, which received $1.6 billion in funding. According to government press releases, the contracts fund not only vaccine development, but also the manufacturing of hundreds of millions of doses of the still-to-be-proven vaccines.
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 income or coverage. Additional information on the #NoPandemicProfiteering campaign is available here.
Accountable Pharma has called for drug companies to make clear and strong commitments to transparency and independent verification of safety and efficacy claims. More information on the group’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is available here.
These latest FOIAs follow more than 850 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:
Department of Defense FOIA Request
Health & Human Services FOIA Request
Lower Drug Prices Now is a national coalition of 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 http://lowerdrugpricesnow.org
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.
Accountable Pharma, a project of Accountable.US is focused on exposing the deep ties between the Trump Administration and the pharmaceutical industry, the revolving door between Big Pharma and the federal government, and how corruption within Congress, the Administration, and the biopharmaceutical industry is hurting patients and their families. Learn more at https://www.accountable.us/pharma/.