Pfizer Dodges Taxes and Price Gouges Patients, New Report Finds

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 – Sen. Bernie Sanders admonished Pfizer today after a new report exposed how the company squeezes American families by dodging taxes and inflating prescription drug prices.

The study, conducted by Americans for Tax Fairness, found that Pfizer has increased the prices of dozens of prescription drugs at 10 times or more the rate of inflation every year since 2012 and plans to permanently dodge an estimated $35 billion in U.S. taxes through a proposed merger with Allergan.

While Pfizer CEO Ian Read and other executives raised drug prices again and again, amassing tremendous personal wealth, one in five adults between the ages of 19 and 64 cannot afford to fill the prescriptions they need. Pfizer has consistently overcharged Americans for prescription drugs. The company spiked the prices of seven of its top selling drugs by an average of 39 percent over two years. Pfizer charges 12 times as much in the U.S. under Medicare for these drugs as it charges in Ireland, where it’s claiming a new address for tax purposes. And the company contributes to skyrocketing drug prices by suppressing cheap generic alternatives, according to the report. 

“At a time when 35 million Americans cannot afford the medications they are prescribed, Pfizer’s merger with an Irish company will allow them to dodge $35 billion in taxes. If Pfizer wants to pretend to be an Irish corporation, it could at least have the decency to charge Americans the drastically lower prices it charges Irish consumers,” Sanders said. “Enough is enough. Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies can no longer be allowed to rip off American patients who already pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

Sanders introduced legislation with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to address skyrocketing increases in prescription drug prices. The bill would direct Medicare to negotiate drug prices, impose tougher penalties for drug companies that commit fraud, ban the practice of brand name drugmakers paying competitors to keep lower-priced generic substitutes off the market and import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada.

Sanders also introduced the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act last year to stop profitable corporations from sheltering income overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. One of the bill’s provisions would prevent the sort of corporate “inversion” that would allow Pfizer to merge with a foreign company and then claim to be based abroad for tax purposes. 

“At a time when we have a $18.2 trillion national debt, many of the largest corporations are paying no federal income taxes and many Americans are struggling to get by, it is past time for corporate America to pay their fair share in taxes,” Sanders said. 

To read the Americans for Tax Fairness report, click here.