COVID-19 Vaccine Developers Ask the SEC to Help Keep the Secret of How They Set Prices

By Julia Rock

When the U.S. government awarded over $10 billion in contracts and advance- purchase commitments to drug companies working on COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, it did not require the recipients of government money to agree to offer their products at fair prices or share intellectual property rights to enable faster production.

Now, two of the companies awarded those contracts—Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson—are trying to prevent shareholders from voting on resolutions to require the companies to disclose information about the impact of government funding on vaccine access.

The U.S. government has purchased 200 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, for about $20 and $10 per dose, respectively.

The shareholder resolutions, filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a shareholder activism organization, ask those two companies to inform their shareholders how “receipt of public financial support for development and manufacture of products for COVID-19 is being, or will be, taken into account when making decisions that affect access to such products, such as setting prices.”

Similar resolutions were also filed at Eli Lilly, Gilead, Merck, and Regeneron.

Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson filed “no action requests” with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in December, asking the agency to rule that the companies can withhold the proposals from shareholders. Neither company responded to The Daily Poster requests for comment.

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