SILVER SPRING, Md. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Vaccine giant Pfizer pumped millions of dollars into the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Congress, potentially influencing the authorization and controversial quasi-approval of its COVID-19 jab.
The vaccine oligarch spent over $21.8 million in 2019–20 and $6.7 million from January–August 2021 on lobbying the government, making it the biggest spender of any individual drug company during the COVID-19 crisis, according to Senate Office of Public Records data.
Pfizer's direct funding for the FDA may have also influenced the regulator's Biologics License Application (BLA) approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty brand COVID-19 vaccine — not widely available in the United States — and the extension of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) granted to the readily available Pfizer jab.
In a blatant conflict of interest, the FDA gets 45% ($2.7 billion) of its funding from drug companies, called "industry user fees." What’s more, "human drugs regulatory activities" — lobbying — accounts for one-third (33%) of the FDA’s budget, with 65% of this paid for by the regulated companies.
All told, more than three-quarters (78%) of the drug industry regulator's budget is bankrolled by the drug-makers it claims to regulate, rendering it what many observers call a "captured" (financially compromised) agency.
"As pharma companies underwrite three-fourths of the FDA's budget for scientific reviews, the agency is increasingly fast-tracking expensive drugs with significant side effects and unproven health benefits," ProPublica media noted.
Thirty scientists, clinicians and patient advocates signatories petitioned the FDA in June to "delay any consideration of a 'full approval' of a COVID-19 vaccine," urging the regulator to "slow down and get the science right" as "there is no legitimate reason to hurry."
The Conversation observed that because so much of the FDA's funding comes from drug-makers, the agency essentially tells its regulated companies how to apply for new drug approvals, greasing the skids for the approval process instead of leaving onus on the drug-makers to pass muster.
The FDA's financial entanglement with Big Pharma, it claims, makes the agency "quicker and more willing to discuss what it wants to see in an application with manufacturers."
"Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the FDA provide emergency use authorization for potential treatments in a matter of weeks, not months," the pro-vaccine magazine noted.
According to available figures, pharma companies paid 75% ($905 million) of the FDA's scientific review budgets for branded and generic drugs in 2017.
"What we are seeing is a clear example of regulatory capture, which is a phenomenon that is at the heart of much of the evil at work in the world at present," Dr. Pat Morrisey told Church Militant. "Regulatory capture has compromised so much of public life that people seem unable to perceive the corrupting effect of it."
"Another blatant example is Bill Gates' funding of the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom," the sister organization to the FDA, the Irish Catholic doctor added.
In 1992, Congress passed the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, moving the FDA from a fully taxpayer-funded body to one partly funded through prescription drug user fees paid by pharma manufacturers who pay the fees when applying to the FDA for drug reviews.
British medical ethicist Dr. Niall McCrae told Church Militant:
As a National Health Service (NHS) ethics research committee member for 11 years, I find it difficult to believe how established standards of ethical governance have been abandoned. But I have also woken up to the facade of compliance and unscrupulous practice that predates the COVID-19 scam.
It is now clear that drug companies such as Pfizer, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have been funding the regulatory authorities and ensuring the best commercial conditions for their global greed. Conflict of interest are not a barrier to Big Pharma; they are the modus operandi.
Central to Big Pharma's profit-making is shaping politics.
A groundbreaking 2020 investigation by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that pharma companies spent $4.7 billion between 1999 and 2018 — an average of $233 million per year — lobbying federal agencies and Congress.
From 1999 to 2018, the industry also spent $414 million on contributions to political candidates, including $22 million to presidential candidates and $214 million to congressional candidates — in all, over $1.3 billion on political campaign contributions.
Pfizer was the biggest corporate spender over the period, with the vaccine oligarch accounting for $219 million in lobbying (93% of the industry total) and $23 million in campaign contributions (around 10% of the industry's giving to politicians).
A 2020 Oxfam report slammed Pfizer for failing to disclose how much it spent on lobbying states or trade unions.
The report elaborated:
And Pfizer does not disclose its membership in tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Pfizer is also a major contributor to politically active social welfare organizations, yet the full list, disclosure about the amounts, and about possible misalignments, is lacking.
Transparency about drug-makers' and the federal regulators' interests in pushing vaccines to market is also woefully missing, Oxfam warned, saying, "similar misalignment" in their COVID-19 response "is apparent."
A 2018 Oxfam report titled "Prescription for Poverty" blasted Pfizer for "systematically" stashing its profits in overseas tax havens. Pfizer's $199 billion held offshore was the second most of any U.S. corporation.
In seven Third World countries alone, Pfizer may have underpaid $22 million annually in taxes. Oxfam listed the developing countries as Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, India, Pakistan, Peru, and Thailand. In First World nations, Pfizer may have underpaid taxes by $1.1 billion.
"Perhaps even more galling than these corporations' sophisticated tax avoidance is their subversion of democratic politics," Oxfam pointed out. "They are also adept at placing their own people in powerful government posts."
Pfizer and Big Pharma systematically engage in "tax dodging, high prices and influence peddling," victimizing the most vulnerable while they "funnel superprofits from people living in poverty to wealthy shareholders and corporate executives," Oxfam's report lamented.
Despite Pfizer's dubious ethics — having been fined $2.3 billion in 2009 for what was then the largest health care fraud settlement ever — the Vatican invited Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla to address its May conference "Exploring the Mind, Body and Soul." Vaccine start-up Moderna was one of the funders of the conference.
Pope Francis has repeatedly endorsed the Pfizer vaccine, receiving it himself without addressing the systemic injustices perpetrated by the pharma oligarch.
Francis' Jesuit communities — leading social justice campaigns calling for equalitable distribution of vaccines — have remained silent on Pfizer's crony capitalism, on the contrary, compelling community members, employees, faculty and students of Jesuit-run institutions to get the jab.
Dr. Niall McCrae reminded Church Militant how "Pope Francis and the Jesuits have always shouted from the rooftops about social justice" with "the Argentinian pontiff displaying sympathies for the Liberation Theology that swept across Latin America in the 1970s."
"Pope Francis would proudly describe himself as progressive, but the globalist COVID coup shows that progress is not helping the poor but creating a master class that will deny basic liberties, enrich a pharmaceutical oligarchy and suppress Christian worship," McCrae noted.
"Can't Pope Francis see this dystopian prospect?" the ethicist asked.
Ironically, Pope Francis has condemned "tax havens for private and corporate profits" but failed to name the overwhelming role of Big Pharma in the racket.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in a note on the morality of the abortion-tainted vaccines, urged "a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry" to ensure that vaccines are effective, safe, ethically acceptable and accessible to the poorest countries.
However, despite an increasingly close relationship with Big Pharma, the Vatican remains tight-lipped on the systemic unethical practices of the vaccine industry and its close relationship with health regulators and government.
Pfizer expects to generate $33.5 billion in vaccine sales in 2021. It profited to the tune of $9.2 billion in vaccine sales in the second quarter of 2021 alone, compared to $1.2 billion during the same period last year.
Church Militant earlier reported on how pharmaceutical oligarchs pushing COVID-19 vaccines had disclosed only 7% of contracts with governments and published clinical trial protocols for just 12% of trials.
The FDA has a history of approving unsafe drugs. In 2005, whistleblower Dr. David J. Graham, associate director of the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, revealed the "FDA is inherently biased in favor of the pharmaceutical industry" and views Big Pharma as "its client, whose interests it must represent and advance," Church Militant reported.