“To say that they are wielding their power fairly, openly, with a sense of compassion, is manifestly untrue

OPENING: In an era of media sensationalism, I have come to appreciate good journalism. When it comes to healthcare, my number one choice is STAT News, but I have also found the Financial Times and The Economist to be excellent sources. Below is a summary of an in-depth article from the F inacial Times on Pfizer and their COVID vaccine. It’s beyond damning; it’s a reflection of an industry that values profits above all else.

The World Health Organization estimates as many as half a million more people would have died this year in Europe alone if there had been no Covid vaccines. There is no doubt that the public owes a debt of gratitude to pharma for developing COVID vaccines but let’s not kid ourselves. Pfizer and Moderns are making billions of dollars off these vaccines while developing nations struggle.

The Financial Times has spoken to more than 60 people involved in the vaccine process, including current and former Pfizer employees and government officials across the globe, to lift the veil on how the company that has contributed so much to saving the world from Covid has also ensured it is such a lucrative business.

After Moderna, which had taken large US government grants, agreed to a much lower price, Pfizer eventually settled on $19.50 a dose in the initial contract with the US and equivalents in other western countries.

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https://www.ft.com/content/0cea5e3f-d4c4-4ee2-961a-3aa150f388ec

Pfizer is behind the pharmaceutical product with a record for sales in a single year. Pfizer forecasts sales of the vaccine will hit $36bn in 2021, at least double those of its closest rival, Moderna. Pfizer’s ability to dramatically expand production has made it by far the most dominant vaccine maker. In October, Pfizer had an 80 percent market share for Covid vaccines in the EU and 74 percent in the US.

The few who have tried to negotiate on price or other forms of access have been politically hurt, particularly in the EU, where there were enormous recriminations after the early rollout.

Pfizer has slashed prices for low-income countries to as low as $6.75 per dose for the poorest and about $10 to $11 for middle-income nations, less than Moderna is charging but still higher than AstraZeneca. “Countries reported to us that they had been trying to get hold of Pfizer, and no one returned their calls,” says a person familiar with the African Union’s vaccine-purchasing operation.

So far, 66 percent of people living in G7 countries have had two vaccine doses; in Africa, only 6 percent. The number of people in high-income countries who have had booster shots is almost double the number in low-income countries who have received first and second doses.

Susan Silbermann, the former head of Pfizer vaccines who created the company’s Covid-19 task force, says the company knew it would not be able to supply the whole world in the initial phase. If everybody’s above board and you’re just delivering in the sequence of when things were paid for an order, then transparency shouldn’t be a problem

A senior South African government official would not comment on Pfizer specifically, but adds: “I think it’s immoral for anybody to profiteer to the extent that has happened out of a serious crisis for humanity as a whole.”

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.comT&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may transfer up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.
https://www.ft.com/content/0cea5e3f-d4c4-4ee2-961a-3aa150f388ec

n late January 2020, BioNTech’s chief executive Ugur Sahin watched the novel coronavirus emerging in China. Worried it would cause global havoc, Sahin, a Turkish immigrant to Germany who was an early believer in mRNA technology, marshaled BioNTech’s resources to invest in discovering a vaccine. But, like Moderna, BioNTech had no approved products — and so no sales or profits. He had to search for a partner who had the dollars he needed.

His first stop was Pfizer because they had already worked together. The first time Sahin floated the idea of investing in his vaccine, the Pfizer executives initially hesitated. But in March, as the pandemic hit hospital wards around Pfizer’s Manhattan headquarters, the two companies announced a collaboration. “It’s not even their vaccine,” as one former US government official involved in vaccine procurement puts it.

It is now known universally as the Pfizer shot is “the biggest marketing coup in the history of American pharmaceuticals.”

While BioNTech took up to €375m funding from the German government to develop the vaccine, Pfizer rejected US government money so it could keep complete control of the vaccine, including the crucial issue of pricing.

So when Pfizer opened negotiations with the US government in early summer 2020, it took an uncompromising stance: the company demanded $100 a dose — $200 a course — according to people familiar with the matter.

Bourla was “amazingly hands-on,” according to one former Trump administration official, and unusually “personally involved” with discussions with people up and down the government, including at the regulator and the White House.

One government official involved in the negotiations accused Pfizer of “trying to play hardball during a time of national emergency.” “How could we possibly have a soft spot in our hearts for Pfizer?” the official asked.

Pfizer had historically had a reputation for being “quite aggressive” and “interested in profit maximization at the expense of everything else”. But the pandemic has amplified its power, “exacerbating Pfizer’s ability to ask extraordinary demands from governments”.

Finacial Times

Bourla told investors this month that Pfizer had touched more lives than any pharmaceutical company before — and that its $80bn in forecasted revenues this year is likely a record for any drugmaker ever.

If you can read this summary without getting angry, then I feel sorry for you because you’re rationalizing “profits ahead of people”. I’m at a loss for words to express my outrage.

Originally published at https://worldofdtcmarketing.com on November 30, 2021.

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Marketing leader with over 20 years of online and offline award winning experience valued by clients

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Richard A Meyer

Richard A Meyer

Marketing leader with over 20 years of online and offline award winning experience valued by clients

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