VIDEO: Though PhRMA Claims COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be Sold at No Profit, Drug Companies Tell Schakowsky a Different Story

July 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC- Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, released the following statement after questioning five pharmaceutical manufacturers that the Trump Administration has selected to participate in Operation Warp Speed—AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, and Pfizer—at today’s Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing:

“There are two major takeaways from today’s hearing: First, the Trump Administration has given billions of taxpayer dollars to pharmaceutical manufacturers for a COVID-19 vaccine without requiring them to sell it at an affordable and accessible price. Second, though industry advertising claims these companies are committed to affordability, most of our leading vaccine manufacturers have refused to sell their vaccines for no profit.

“Though taxpayers have invested nearly $10 billion in COVID-19 vaccine research and development, I confirmed today that the Trump Administration has not required any of the drug companies receiving this funding to enter into an affordable supply agreement. Ensuring the safe development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is critical, but it will mean nothing if its price is a barrier to the American people. President Trump is allowing Big Pharma to charge whatever price they want, and Moderna, Merck, and Pfizer told me today they will do so.”

In a recent advertisement, PhRMA, the trade association representing the majority of our nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers, claimed: “We’ve had a number of companies that have already made public pledges that if their vaccine is ultimately successful that they will produce it essentially at cost meaning no profit for that company.” But Congresswoman Schakowsky’s questioning revealed that’s not true for all five of the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers:

  • Moderna has received more than $483 million in taxpayer funding—though they’ve never brought a drug to market—but refused to commit to selling their vaccine for no profit.
  • Merck has received more than $38 million in U.S. taxpayer funding, but refused to commit to selling their vaccine for no profit.
  • Pfizer has significantly benefited from U.S. tax breaks and other subsidies, but refused to commit to selling their vaccine at an affordable and accessible price.
  • AstraZeneca has received $1.2 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding, but only committed to sell their vaccine at no profit for the first 300 million doses—which won’t even cover every person in the United States, let alone the world.
  • Johnson & Johnson has received over $600 million in U.S. taxpayer funding, and committed to sell their vaccine at no profit “during the emergency pandemic period.”

Congresswoman Schakowsky continued, “I believe Congress will ensure a coronavirus vaccine is available to patients at no cost. But insurance plans, public programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and states will still have to pay whatever price these companies set. If vaccine manufacturers are allowed to charge sky high prices, they will create a formula for cost-shifting—the costs that consumers don’t pay on a vaccine will be redistributed to them in the form of higher insurance premiums, out of pocket costs, and fees.

“We need affordable and transparent pricing from every pharmaceutical manufacturer. Because their answers at today’s hearing indicate they won’t give them to us, I’ll keep fighting to pass my bipartisan MMAPPP Act, H.R. 7296, to make sure Congress requires them to.”

Watch Congresswoman Schakowsky’s full question line here:


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