September 15, 2020 – American Oversight and two other watchdog groups are calling for the federal government to publicly release copies of the coronavirus vaccine development contracts signed with pharmaceutical companies that have received federal funding.

Along with Accountable Pharma and Lower Drug Prices Now, we filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services for the release of written agreements between the agencies and Pfizer, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, and Novavax. 

“The American people continue to be the primary investors in Operation Warp Speed, whether this administration chooses to acknowledge it or not,” said Margarida Jorge, national director of Lower Drug Prices Now. “For those outside the White House’s inner circle, it is the health and safety of our families and loved ones at stake in the development of this vaccine, not the enrichment of corporate shareholders and industry insiders. After billions in taxpayer investments, Americans deserve transparency about whether the administration has required affordable vaccines in the numerous multimillion-dollar contracts it has entered into over the last six months.”

The requests specifically ask for written agreements created with drug companies, including  Pfizer and BioNTech, which together received $1.95 billion in funding, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, which together received $2.04 billion in funding, and Novavax, which received $1.6 billion in funding. According to government press releases, the contracts fund not only vaccine development, but also the manufacturing of hundreds of millions of doses of the still-to-be-proven vaccines. 

“It is absurd that billions of dollars have been poured into drug company coffers and taxpayers still have no idea what the Trump administration has negotiated on their behalf, what assurances we have that vaccines will be affordable and accessible, and what protections are included if drug companies pocket the money, their executives cash out their stock options, and they don’t produce a safe and effective vaccine,” said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Accountable Pharma.

American Oversight and Lower Drug Prices Now have previously submitted multiple requests related to coronavirus vaccine development. Only two have received responses, related to Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, both of which were heavily redacted.  

“From day one of this pandemic, the Trump administration has consistently misled the American people while playing favorites behind the scenes,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “If a vaccine is going to be successful, the public needs to be able to trust that these multibillion-dollar contracts aren’t just another political stunt or corporate handout.”

From the start of this crisis, Lower Drug Prices Now has urged lawmakers to stop pandemic profiteering, make coronavirus testing and treatment affordable, and ensure that vaccines are available to everyone regardless of income or coverage. Additional information on the #NoPandemicProfiteering campaign is available here

Accountable Pharma has called for drug companies to make clear and strong commitments to transparency and independent verification of safety and efficacy claims. More information on the group’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is available here.

These latest FOIAs follow more than 850 public records requests that American Oversight has filed with federal and state government agencies to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. More information on this investigation is available here.

Today’s requests are available here.

Part of Investigation:

American Oversight is a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog and is the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration. Since our launch in March 2017, we have filed more than 100 public records lawsuits, uncovering and publishing tens of thousands of documents including senior officials’ calendars, emails, and expense records.