Last year, Pfizer made nearly $37 billion in sales from its COVID-19 “vaccine.” The drugmaker’s annual revenue has doubled to $81 billion—more than the GDP of most countries. And 2022 aims to be another blockbuster year for the company with its COVID-19 pill Paxlovid. Yet, the U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant welcomed 2022 by raising the prices of over 120 of its drugs, more than any other drugmaker. The move provoked one group to label Pfizer the industry’s “Poster Child for Greed.”

Screenshot / Patients For Affordable Drugs

Still, Pfizer wasn’t alone in raising prices. In January, pharmaceutical companies raised prices on 554 medications, according to Patients for Affordable Drugs (P4AD). On a mission to “break the monopoly of pricing power of drug corporations,” P4AD recently released a report titled “A New Year Brings The Same Old Bad Behavior By Big Pharma.” Elaborating on Pfizer’s jab windfall, the report notes:

“Due to sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, which is set to be the best-selling drug of all time, Pfizer shattered profit records in 2021. Projected sales for 2022 are $54.5 billion — more than double the previous record for one-year sales for a prescription drug. To put this into perspective, AbbVie’s Humira previously held the spot with $19.8 billion in sales, and Pfizer’s best-selling product just prior to the pandemic achieved worldwide revenues of $5.8 billion.”

The report notes that despite record revenue in 2021, “Pfizer began 2022 with price hikes on seven of its ten best-selling drugs,” including its pneumonia vaccine (up 6.9%), a breast cancer medication (up 6.9%), and a treatment for people with cardiovascular disease (up 6%). P4AD points out these 5-6% price hikes translate into thousands of dollars in higher drug costs for patients.

Notably, a little over a month into 2022, P4AD reported that of the 554 drugs with hiked prices, 183 were increased by $100 or more, and 118 drugs carry a price hike over $5,000. The average price hike was 6.3%, and one in four price hikes exceeded the most recently available inflation rate for the 12-month period ending in November 2021. Remarkably, with Pfizer leading the way, 93% of the price hikes exceeded 2.3%, the projected inflation rate for 2023. 

Highlighting the “greed” further, the price hikes affect hundreds of medications essential for the management of chronic diseases, “like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental health conditions.” Many of the drugs impacted by the price hikes treat conditions that place patients at higher risk of severe illness or death from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction in 2021 of COVID-19 “vaccines.”

Furthermore, at the start of the pandemic, Pfizer chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla said the company had “committed to use all of the resources and expertise we had at our disposal to help protect populations globally against this deadly virus.” Yet, Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies have been accused of not sharing their “vaccine” formulas, “which would enable drugmakers in poorer countries to produce cheaper versions of them.”

Pfizer’s “greed” has upset groups like Global Justice Now. Accusing Pfizer of “pandemic profiteering,” the group—which campaigns for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines—slammed the wealthy company for “ripping off public health systems” as it announced revenues higher than the GDP of most countries. While many would argue the group would fare better by shifting its attention to alternative treatments (like Ivermectin), Tim Bierley, a pharma campaigner at the group, highlighted what UncoverDC reported last summer—Pfizer is demanding ransom for vaccine contracts. Bierley proclaimed:

“The development of mRNA vaccines should have revolutionised the global COVID response. But we’ve let Pfizer withhold this essential medical innovation from much of the world, all while ripping off public health systems with an eye-watering mark-up.

It’s nothing short of pandemic profiteering for Pfizer to make a killing while its vaccines have been withheld from so many. Pfizer is now richer than most countries; it has made more than enough money from this crisis. It’s time to suspend intellectual property and break vaccine monopolies.”

Coming to its own defense, Pfizer remarked in December 2021 that the pandemic has “highlighted the extraordinary value that a vibrant private sector can deliver to society.” Calling confidentiality agreements standard practice, the company noted that the estimated cost of “manufacturing the vaccine by a biological engineering expert” was “grossly inaccurate and meaningless.” The company argued estimations don’t reflect the actual costs of bringing the vaccine to patients, including clinical trials, increased manufacturing efforts, and global distribution. 

Protecting itself further, Pfizer responded the Global Justice Now’s claims earlier this week, insisting it was “firmly committed to equitable and affordable access” to its COVID-19 gene-therapy jabs. Reiterating and expanding on its statement from December, Pfizer explained: 

“High- and middle-income countries pay more than low-income countries, but at a value that is significantly discounted from our normal benchmarks, during the pandemic. Low- and lower-middle-income countries pay a not-for-profit price. However, we would highlight that the true costs of bringing this novel mRNA vaccine to patients include ongoing large-scale clinical studies and pharmacovigilance, continued and increased manufacturing efforts, including process improvements, and global distribution and supply.

COVID vaccines are complex biologic products, and their manufacturing requires specialized experience, expertise, and equipment. It is not as simple as sharing the ‘recipe.’ Manufacturing of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID vaccine involves the use of over 280 materials. There is enormous collaboration already taking place.”