USA Today: “Several patient advocacy groups have raised similar issues about the government’s vaccine development program…”
The Hill: “Drug pricing advocates are worried the deal could lead to price gouging…”
Politico: “…groups like Patients over Pharma are watchdogging the industry’s response”
Washington, DC – Over the past week there has been an increase in attention paid to the lack of transparency and other serious concerns regarding Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine development program as well as some of the ways that executives at drug companies like Moderna and Novavax are already cashing in before they’ve even developed a safe vaccine. Below is a roundup of some of Patients Over Pharma and Accountable.US’ recent work on this front.
USA Today: A COVID-19 vaccine at what price? Should all Americans be able to get a shot for free?
“…Although a vaccine is still months if not longer away, billions of tax dollars are being spent to rapidly research, develop, manufacture and distribute several candidates. The federal government has already promised to make a vaccine free for people of low income. But how many taxpayer dollars would enable everyone to get it without paying? That’s not clear, in part, because the government hasn’t released the details of the contracts it’s signing with vaccine developers, five of which will update members of Congress this morning on their efforts.”
“Several patient advocacy groups have raised similar issues about the government’s vaccine development program, called Operation Warp Speed. ‘We have serious concerns regarding Operation Warp Speed’s leadership, lack of transparency, and coziness with the drug companies,’ Eli Zupnick, a spokesperson with the nonpartisan think-tank Accountable.US said in an email. ‘If American taxpayers are shouldering the financial risk of vaccine development then American patients should be guaranteed that any resulting vaccines be affordable and accessible and that drug companies aren’t allowed to profiteer from them.’”
The Hill: $2 billion vaccine deal with Pfizer raises pricing concerns
“The Trump administration’s nearly $2 billion investment in Pfizer and a smaller German biotechnology company for a coronavirus vaccine is raising eyebrows among lawmakers and drug pricing advocates…Drug pricing advocates are worried the deal could lead to price gouging. ‘While we all hope that this vaccine ends up panning out, it raises serious alarm bells to see taxpayers on the hook to hand Pfizer a massive profiteering opportunity and locking in a $20 per-dose cost before we even know how many doses would be needed for long-term protection,’ said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for the advocacy group Patients Over Pharma. ‘This is another deeply concerning move by the former drug company executives in charge of Operation Warp Speed who are shoveling money into the hands of drug companies without any meaningful transparency or accountability,’ Zupnick added.
Politico: Vaccine makers face house panel
“‘Meanwhile, groups like Patients over Pharma are watchdogging the industry’s response and calling for lawmakers to press the industry’s executives on any deals they’ve made with the Trump administration.”
Guardian: US pharma company raises vaccine hopes but more trials are vital, say experts
“Promising details were released this week about Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine but it remains in the early stages of development…’We are now two months into Operation Warp Speed and people across the country still have no idea if the drug company executives Trump put in charge of it secured any assurances regarding access and affordability of vaccines developed with taxpayer dollars,’ said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Patients Over Pharma, a group critical of pharmaceutical companies.”
Reuters: Exclusive: Novavax executives could get big payday even if vaccine fails
“One of the leading U.S. firms developing a coronavirus vaccine, Novavax Inc (NVAX.O), has awarded executives stock options that could pay out tens of millions of dollars even if its efforts fail. Novavax CEO Stanley Erck and three other executives would earn the options, worth $101 million at Tuesday’s closing stock price, if the company’s vaccine candidate enters a mid-stage clinical trial – regardless of its eventual success, according to a company filing.”
“…Executive compensation experts and patient advocates said the Novavax options skew incentives for executives by tying a massive payout to a short-term, interim milestone. ‘Drug companies like Novavax are getting billions of dollars from taxpayers to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, so it’s certainly concerning to see their executives get massive payouts before we know if the vaccine actually works,’ said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for consumer watchdog Patients Over Pharma.”
WaPo: Novavax executives stand to collect millions even if covid-19 vaccine doesn’t work
“The top executives at Novavax, one of the biotechnology companies racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, stand to collect tens of millions of dollars in compensation even if their treatment never makes it to market….Executive compensation experts and patient advocates were troubled by the idea of tying a massive payout to a short-term milestone. ‘Drug companies like Novavax are getting billions of dollars from taxpayers to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, so it’s certainly concerning to see their executives get massive payouts before we know if the vaccine actually works, Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for consumer watchdog Patients Over Pharma, told Reuters.”
CBS: Moderna executives hiked their stock sales after announcing positive vaccine trial
“Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel more than doubled the number of his company shares to be sold through an executive stock plan that was changed just days after the biotech in May announced positive early results for its coronavirus vaccine. Moderna’s shares spiked on the May news, rising 30% in just one day, and have been trading in a historically high price range ever since…Another top Moderna executive, President Stephen Hoge, also had his pre-programmed executive trading plan reset around the same time. The change allowed him to sell $1.9 million worth of Moderna stock in the first two weeks of July. Hoge hadn’t had any previously planned sale of shares for that time period, company filings show.
“‘Once again, drug company executives have been caught playing games with their stock options,’ Kyle Herrig, who heads the government watchdog group Accountable.US, said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. The group last month urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate top executives at Moderna for allegedly manipulating the stock market. “The SEC needs to investigate these stock-plan changes,’ Herrig said.