Pandemic Profiteering


How Pharma Insiders Are Using News of Government Awards & Trial Results to Boost Their Stock Prices Without a Vaccine.

The federal government is investing billions of dollars in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, with little assurance that these medicines will be affordable or available to the millions of people who need them. Despite polling that demonstrates that the public is extremely concerned about drug corporations price gouging on COVID-19 medicines, neither the Trump administration nor Congress has taken meaningful action to limit drug corporations’ monopoly control over prices, to increase transparency for corporations or to guarantee affordability for patients.

While taxpayers have not yet seen much benefit from their investments, some corporate insiders and speculators are profiting handsomely from temporary surges in stock prices that offer short-term rewards—whether or not a vaccine or medicine ultimately materializes.

Rather than learning hard lessons from the opioid pandemic and other past crises, drug corporations are doubling down on reckless, short-sighted schemes for quick money rather than considering the long-term implications for investors, the reputational risks, and the impacts on public health.

From January to August, the stock market value for the eight biotech companies on the S&P 500 grew by $130  billion. During the same period, executives and insiders from just three of these companies — Moderna, Inovio and Vaxart — made at least $370 million in sales of company stocks inflated by news of government awards and trial results.3 These findings show that company executives and insiders are profiteering from the pandemic, without any guarantee of a vaccine.

Large institutional investors are increasingly concerned about the high-risk business practices of the pharmaceutical sector that invite scrutiny, investigation, legal interventions and increased regulations. Share spikes tied to government funding of COVID-19 medicines have already attracted Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) attention. The presence of industry insiders in positions of influence in the Trump administration raises a myriad of questions about whether investments in COVID-19 medicines serve public or private interests.

This report traces how massive public investments into the research and development of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines increase wealth for industry insiders, short-term speculators, and President Trump’s political allies, while providing no guarantee of a safe, affordable treatment that serves public health needs.

Click on Pandemic Profiteering to read the full report.