Pfizer accused of ‘pandemic profiteering’ amid bumper revenue

Pfizer accused of ‘pandemic profiteering’ amid bumper revenue

Date: 8 February 2022
Campaigns: Pharma

Campaigners have slammed Pfizer for “ripping off public health systems” as the company announces revenues higher than the GDP of most countries.

Global Justice Now, a social justice group campaigning for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, highlights that:

  • Pfizer’s annual revenue has doubled to $81 billion, more than the GDP of the majority of countries. If Pfizer were a country, it would have the 66th largest GDP in the world, ahead of countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Guatemala, Oman, and Luxembourg. (1)
  • Last week, the Covax vaccine initiative, set up to ensure lower-income countries would have access to Covid-19 vaccines, revealed that it was out of money, needing a cash injection of $5.2 billion – a seventh of Pfizer’s expected vaccine revenues – to pay for syringes and other urgent supplies (2).
  • Pfizer’s bumper revenues are driven largely by their vaccine, which was first developed by smaller German company BioNTech with €100m in debt financing from the publicly-owned European Investment Bank and a €375m grant from the German government. Pfizer also received a $1.9 billion early order from the US government to de-risk R&D. (3)
  • Pfizer has charged Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) an estimated  £2.82 billion above production cost for the 189 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines the UK has bought. Pfizer says that a non-profit dose of their vaccine costs just $6.75, or £4.98, to produce, but it has reportedly charged the NHS £18 a dose for the first 100 million purchased and £22 a dose for the next 89 million, totalling £3.76 billion.(3, 4) This amounts to an “eye-watering” 299% mark-up (4). Experts estimate the true cost price to be even lower. (5)
  • The UK, EU and Switzerland are blocking international efforts to enable low and middle-income countries to manufacture vaccines and increase global supplies. More than a year on from India and South Africa’s proposal to suspend intellectual property on Covid-related technologies, just one in ten people in low-income countries are even partly vaccinated.

Tim Bierley, pharma campaigner at Global Justice Now, said: 

“The development of mRNA vaccines should have revolutionised the global covid response. But we’ve let Pfizer withhold this essential medical innovation from much of the world, all while ripping off public health systems with an eye-watering mark-up.

“Right now, there are billions of people who cannot access Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. Many are in countries with the facilities needed to manufacture mRNA jabs, but Pfizer’s jealous guarding of its patent stands in the way. And we’re seeing thousands of preventable deaths each day as a result.

“It’s nothing short of pandemic profiteering for Pfizer to make a killing while its vaccines have been withheld from so many. Pfizer is now richer than most countries; it has made more than enough money from this crisis. It’s time to suspend intellectual property and break vaccine monopolies. ”

Ends

Notes

  1. World Bank GDP figures ranked by Worldometer: https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-by-country/
  2. Seth Berkley Financial Times interview: https://www.ft.com/content/d8506581-81a3-4cd2-bf3c-073eca9a0ae4
    Expected revenue from Covid vaccine: $36bn (Pfizer Q3 report: Pfizer Q3 earnings, p. 33:: https://s28.q4cdn.com/781576035/files/doc_financials/2021/q3/Q3-2021-Earnings-Charts-FINALv2.pdf)
  3. Peoples’ Vaccine Alliance – Oxfam report: https://webassets.oxfamamerica.org/media/documents/The_Great_Vaccine_Robbery_Policy_Brief.pdf
  4. Pfizer vaccine profit calculations detailed here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1N0ckTFpRr6hii664BPavmu_tCOBICpHj/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=117886438862791243890&rtpof=true&sd=true
    Pfizer sells doses to low-income countries at a not-for-profit price: https://www.barrons.com/articles/pfizer-covid-earnings-ceo-51635884114
    Pfizer sells to African Union countries at cost of $6.75/dose:
    https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-africa-vaccine-exc-idUKKBN29P0LN
  5. Channel 4 Dispatches – biological engineering expert estimates Pfizer vaccine costs just 76p to manufacture for each shot: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/05/wall-of-secrecy-in-pfizer-contracts-as-company-accused-of-profiteering

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