Pfizer has everyone in government from politicians to the health agencies in their pocket $$$$. This makes their negotiations clearly corrupt, even with top G7 countries.
There are several “unfair and abusive” tactics that Pfizer employs in its contracts:
1. The company “reserves the right to silence governments”
The Brazilian government was put in an impossible position by Pfizer insisting on a number of “problematic” terms that Brazil was forced to accept in the midst of the COVID pandemic. The terms included Brazil waiving sovereign immunity, imposing no penalties on Pfizer for late deliveries, and an agreement to resolve disputes under a secret private arbitration under the laws of the United States.
In addition to that, the contract shows that the Brazilian government is prohibited from making “any public announcement concerning the existence, subject matter or terms of [the] Agreement” or even commenting on its relationship with Pfizer without receiving the prior written consent of the company.
A similar provision is included in the Pfizer contract with the European Commission and the U.S. government, but in those cases, the obligation to obtain another party’s agreement to publicly comment on the relation applies to both parties.
2. Pfizer controls donations of the shots
“Pfizer tightly controls supply,” the group claims. The Brazilian government, for instance, is restricted from accepting Pfizer vaccine donations from other countries or purchasing the shots from them without Pfizer’s approval. The violation of the terms could result in an immediate termination of the agreement, with Brazil still obligated to fully pay for any remaining contracted doses.
3. Pfizer Secured an “IP Waiver” for itself
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is said to be a fierce defender of the intellectual property of its shot’s formula, calling any plans to share it “nonsense” and “dangerous.” At the same time, the company does not see any issue in using someone else’s intellectual property.
Per the report:
At least four countries are required “to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Pfizer” from and against any and all suits, claims, actions, demands, damages, costs, and expenses related to vaccine intellectual property.
That means that if another vaccine manufacturer sued Pfizer for patent infringement in Colombia, the contract requires the local government, not Pfizer, “to foot the bill.”
4. Contract disputes are settled by secret private arbiters, not public courts
Bypassing the domestic legal processes, Pfizer insists on a panel of three undisclosed private arbitrators to decide any bilateral disputes. The details of the arbitration and even its mere existence, as well as proceedings and final decisions, must be held confident by both parties. If the U.K., for example, had any dispute with Pfizer, common British folks would never even find out such a disputes had ever occurred.
5. Pfizer can go after national assets
The decisions of the secret panel can be enforced in national courts.
To make sure the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not threaten its bottom line, Pfizer required Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Peru to waive sovereign immunity. The contract allows Pfizer to request that courts use state assets as a guarantee that Pfizer will be paid an arbitral award and/or use the assets to compensate Pfizer if the government does not pay.
6. Pfizer maintains the right to make all key decisions when it comes to its shots
Pfizer often receives a “sole discretion” to decide on such issues as possible supply shortages and to make adjustments to the delivery schedule while facing no liability. “Under the vast majority of contracts, Pfizer’s interests come first,” per the Public Citizen report.
Tom Wright, research manager at the Transparency Global Health Program, noted that “hiding contracts from public view or publishing documents filled with redacted text means we don’t know how when vaccines will arrive, what happens if things go wrong and the level of financial risk buyers are absorbing,” per the Washington Post.
Julia Barnes-Weise, director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Alliance Accelerator, added that the contract terms related to sovereign immunity appear to be an attempt by Pfizer to cover for some risks over which the company has “little control,” including the use of experimental, unapproved vaccines in partner countries where “the company has little oversight over storage and distribution.”
In response to the report, Sharon Castillo, a spokesperson for Pfizer, told the Post that confidentiality clauses were “standard in commercial contracts” and “intended to help build trust between the parties, as well as protect the confidential commercial information exchanged during negotiations and included in final contracts.”