Feb 24, 2021

Big Pharma Has Already Repeatedly Hiked Drug Prices During Public Health Crisis, Now Drug Companies Are Eyeing Chance to Price-Gouge Vaccines

Washington, D.C. – The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) issued a statement today reacting to comments from Pfizer Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio promising to hike the price of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine to boost profits as soon as the current public health crisis wanes.

“Pfizer’s tone-deaf pledge to hike prices on its COVID-19 vaccine to boost the company’s bottom line demonstrates the urgency for policymakers to advance market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable,” said CSRxP executive director Lauren Aronson. “In addition to eying larger vaccine profits, Pfizer has continued to engage in price hikes on many of the other products in its portfolio during the pandemic — increasing prices more than 130 times already this year.”

“Pfizer’s promise to boost vaccine prices, while receiving billions of dollars from American taxpayers for that vaccine and engaging in pandemic price hikes, showcases how Big Pharma prioritizes profits over people,” Aronson continued. “Policymakers must take notice and take action to ensure COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are priced affordably and responsibly hold Big Pharma accountable for the industry’s pricing practices.”

D’Amelio made the comments during a fourth quarter earnings call held on February 2. During the call, D’Amelio said Pfizer was “obviously… going to get more on price” and was only limited currently due to the “pandemic pricing environment.” D’Amelio also said there would be ““significant opportunity” to boost margins on the vaccine “once we get beyond the pandemic environment that we’re in.” In a February 23 article, FiercePharma reported one industry analyst estimates the drug company may increase prices on its COVID-19 vaccine by 300 to 400 percent.

Pfizer’s pledge to investors to increase vaccine prices, and therefore profit margins, appears to run-counter to comments made last year by CEO Albert Bourla where he suggested setting high prices on a COVID-19 vaccine would be “unethical” and promised the company would not take advantage of the pandemic. “If we were to implement free, open-market principles in pricing the product, we could go to huge prices and sell everything we can manufacture,” Bourla said in June 2020. “But it would be unethical, I think. We will not do it, because that’s really taking advantage of a situation, and people will not forget if you do that.”

American Voters Overwhelmingly Agree COVID-19 Vaccines & Treatments Must Be Priced Affordably

A recent national survey, commissioned by CSRxP and conducted by Morning Consult found American voters overwhelmingly agree policymakers must ensure COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are responsibly and affordably priced.

  •  87 Percent: An overwhelming 87 percent majority of voters agree policymakers must ensure patients can access COVID-19 medications at an affordable price and prevent pharmaceutical companies from setting unreasonably high prices and increasing those prices to boost profits. This includes more than two-thirds of American voters who “strongly agree.”

Americans Still Rightly Believe Big Pharma Puts Profits Over People

The CSRxP poll also found American voters rightly believe Big Pharma continues to put profits over people — despite commentary that the industry’s image may have been rehabilitated by its role during the pandemic.

  • 70/30: The work being done by pharmaceutical companies on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines has not changed Americans’ desire to see policymakers hold the industry accountable on drug prices. When asked whether they agree more that:
  1. Pharmaceutical companies put profits before people and the industry’s anti-competitive tactics and price-gouging have left too many Americans unable to afford the medications they need to survive and enjoy a strong quality of life. Now is the time for Congress to pass bipartisan, market-based solutions to hold drug companies accountable and lower prescription drug prices.OR


  2. Pharmaceutical companies are doing everything they can to develop, produce and provide vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Now is the wrong time to blame pharmaceutical companies for rising drug prices or advance policies that could restrict innovation.

70 percent of voters say Big Pharma continues to put profits over people compared to just 30 percent who say drug companies are doing everything they can.

Read more on Pfizer’s fourth quarter earnings and pandemic price hikes HERE.

Read more on Big Pharma’s “turbocharged” year for business in 2020 HERE.

Read more on Big Pharma’s latest round of pandemic price hikes HERE.

Learn more about market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices HERE.