NEWS: Sanders Urges Global Pharmaceutical Industry Leaders: Prioritize Public Health Over Private Profits as Pandemic Accord Negotiations Enter Final Phase

WASHINGTON, April 25 — As negotiations continue at the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish the Pandemic Accord, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to the leaders of the international global pharmaceutical industry, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) President Albert Bourla and Director General David Reddy, to reconsider their opposition to measures that would help make tests, treatments, and vaccines available to everyone who needs them.

“As leaders of the pharmaceutical industry, you play a critical role in making sure new tests, treatments and vaccines are created. The success of your scientists is humanity’s success,” wrote Sanders. “But your responsibility does not end with inventing breakthroughs. The products you develop must be made available around the world quickly and affordably. At the very least, you should not challenge governments negotiating new rules to make medicines more accessible.”

According to a study by Yale researchers, by the time the U.S. recorded one million deaths due to COVID-19, over 40% of those deaths were caused by three COVID-19 variants first detected outside of the U.S.

Bourla also serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, which doubled its profits in 2021 and made a record $100 billion in revenue in 2022.

“There is no rational reason why vaccine manufacturers should be allowed to keep lifesaving manufacturing information secret in the face of an international public health emergency,” Sanders wrote. “That is not just the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do to protect the American people from viruses that respect no borders.”

The negotiations over the Pandemic Accord – an international agreement under the WHO constitution aimed at strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response – began in December 2021 and are targeted to conclude May 2024.

Founded in 1948, the WHO is an agency of the United Nations dedicated to act as a coordinating authority on international health issues, including global public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“If necessary, I will give you the opportunity to explain to the HELP Committee your decision to prioritize the profits of the pharmaceutical industry over public health imperatives,” concluded Sanders.

To read the full letter, click here.