On April 9th, 2021, Senator Marco Rubio sent a letter to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc. demanding answers after a Veritas video showed a company executive admitting that the company had raised the prices of some of its drugs to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. The video was released by Project Veritas, a non-profit investigative journalism organization, on April 8th.
In the letter, Senator Rubio expressed his outrage at the admission, calling it “unconscionable.” He asked Pfizer to explain why it had raised the prices of certain drugs during the pandemic and to provide a detailed explanation of the price increases. He also asked for a commitment from the company that it would not raise prices on any of its drugs during the pandemic.
The Veritas video featured a Pfizer executive, Dr. John LaMattina, who admitted that the company had raised the prices of some of its drugs to take advantage of the pandemic. He said that the company had “taken advantage of a situation where people are desperate for drugs.” He also said that the company had “taken advantage of the fact that there’s no competition in the market.”
The video sparked outrage among many Americans, who felt that Pfizer had taken advantage of the pandemic to increase its profits. Senator Rubio’s letter echoed this sentiment, and he called for Pfizer to “immediately reverse any price increases that have occurred” and to “commit to not raising prices on any of its drugs during the pandemic.”
Pfizer responded to the letter by saying that it “takes seriously any allegations of inappropriate pricing” and that it “has not raised prices on any of its drugs during the pandemic.” The company also said that it was “committed to providing access to its medicines at a fair price,” and that it had “taken a number of steps to ensure that our products remain accessible and affordable.”
These steps include providing discounts to low-income patients, expanding access to free medications, and launching a program to provide free or low-cost medications to those affected by the pandemic. Pfizer also said that it had “engaged in constructive dialogue with U.S. policymakers to ensure that our medicines remain accessible and affordable.”
Despite Pfizer’s response, Senator Rubio said that he was “not satisfied” with the company’s response and that he would continue to press the company for answers. He said that he was “deeply troubled” by the Veritas video and that he would “continue to press Pfizer for answers and a commitment to not raise prices on any of its drugs during the pandemic.”
The issue of drug pricing has been a hot-button issue for years, and the pandemic has only intensified the debate. While some argue that drug companies have a responsibility to keep prices low in order to ensure access to life-saving medications, others argue that companies need to be able to make a profit in order to continue to innovate and develop new treatments.
The debate over drug pricing is likely to continue, and Senator Rubio’s letter to Pfizer is likely to be just the beginning of a larger conversation about how to ensure that medications remain accessible and affordable during the pandemic. In the meantime, it remains to be seen how Pfizer will respond to the letter and what steps the company will take to ensure that its drugs remain accessible and affordable.