May 11, 2020 Press Releases

U.S. Taxpayers Are Mega-Funders in Promising COVID-19 Vaccine

WASHINGTON, DC — The growing crisis around COVID-19 brings into stark view America’s broken drug pricing system. Currently, U.S. taxpayers are contributing up to $483 million in support of a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Therapeutics. In a blog published today, Patients For Affordable Drugs argues that as partners funding the science, development, and approval of the vaccine, American taxpayers must have a say in the vaccine’s price.

Moderna’s vaccine is the first to enter clinical trials in the U.S. and offers promise for combating the global pandemic — but Moderna didn’t get there alone.

“As patients, we are cheering for Moderna and scientists all over the world as they strive to invent a COVID-19 vaccine. But we are concerned that the funding given to Moderna fails to include provisions to ensure a fair price,” write David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs, and Sarah Kaminer Bourland, the group’s legislative director. “The government must make sure that corporations don’t cash in on a crisis.”

The piece lays out how U.S. taxpayers contributed to critical steps in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine development process:

  • Foundational Research: Moderna’s key mRNA technology is based on a seminal university research paper that relied heavily on taxpayer-funded grants from the NIH.
  • Technology Development: The company then received over $100 million from the federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop the underlying technology that is now being used in its COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Application to COVID-19: Moderna received a $483 million grant for its vaccine development, the largest COVID-19 drug contract awarded by BARDA to date. Additionally, federal scientists helped design the vaccine, and the vaccine’s clinical trial is being funded and conducted by U.S. taxpayers.

American taxpayers are funding the development of several potential COVID-19 vaccines. In return, we must have transparency, accountability, and a fair price. Because Big Pharma can’t be given free rein to profiteer on a pandemic.

Today’s piece is the fourth in a P4AD series that outlines the investment U.S. taxpayers have made into COVID-19 treatments. In our previous blogs, we explained why Johnson & Johnson’s claims of selling a not-for-profit COVID-19 vaccine are more than a little misleading; we tracked taxpayer funding flowing to drug companies for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments; and we demonstrated how Big Pharma only became interested in investing in vaccine development after it realized it could reap large profits. Patients For Affordable Drugs does not accept contributions from any organizations that profit from the development or distribution of prescription drugs.

Read the full post here.



Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.