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U.S. Government Took the Risk for Moderna Vaccine, Only Profits Privatized: Doggett & Porter Press for Funding, Procurement Documents

August 20, 2020

***For Immediate Release***

Press release header

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 20, 2020

Contact: Kate Stotesbery

202-225-4865

 

U.S. Government Took the Risk for Moderna Vaccine, Only Profits Privatized: Doggett & Porter Press for Funding, Procurement Documents

Washington, D.C. –  U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, joined with U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-CA), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, to press the Trump Administration for answers on how HHS is protecting the taxpayer investment in funding and procurement agreements for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. This follows Moderna’s admission that “that federal money makes up ‘100% funding of the program’” and the admission by Acting Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Gary Disbrow in a Senate hearing that “the U.S. government took the risk to make that investment” in the vaccine.

“Taxpayers assumed the full risk in developing this potentially world-changing vaccine,” said Congressman Doggett. “And they deserve the full benefits of their billion-dollar-plus investment—not just the obligation to pay and pay again. The Administration is hiding its agreements with Moderna, which privatize only the profits. If Trump is so proud of the art of this deal, open it up to a little sunlight. Let’s see all of the documents on the funding and procurement for this entirely taxpayer-funded project; that’s a path to taxpayer protection, investor protection, and consumer protection.”

“The federal government has a responsibility to prevent the price gouging of life-saving vaccines, even more so during a public health crisis and when taxpayer dollars are used,” said Congresswoman Porter. “We’ve spent $2.5 billion on the development and production of Moderna's vaccine—we need to be good stewards of this investment. Every single American should be able to get the vaccine once a safe and effective one is developed.”

“Taxpayers are serving as the angel investors in COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic development, assuming the costs and risk,” write the lawmakers. “It is imperative that they also receive the benefit and a stake in the outcome. To assure this commitment is being met,” Porter and Doggett request precise details of not only the federal investments, but also how those are taken into consideration for pricing and procurement.

Reps. Doggett and Porter press for answers as previous inquiries remain unanswered, including an August 7 letter requesting a full accounting of taxpayer funding in vaccines. These efforts come as broad support mounts for the Trump Administration to stand up for taxpayer rights regarding the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir; 34 State Attorneys General called for HHS to utilize existing law to assure a reasonable price for reasonable supplies of remdesivir, a drug rescued from the scrapheap by taxpayer investment. Other Congressional inquiries regarding taxpayer protection also remain unanswered, including an April 2017 request to President Trump led by Rep. Doggett from 50 Members of Congress.

You can read today’s full letter here or below:

August 20, 2020

 

Alex Azar

Secretary

Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave. SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Mark T. Esper

Secretary

Department of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301

 

Moncef Slaoui

Chief Advisor

Operation Warp Speed

Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave. SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Secretary Azar, Secretary Esper, and Mr. Slaoui,

Following recent admissions from Moderna that taxpayers have been financing the full development costs of the mRNA-1273 vaccine, we write requesting more information concerning how HHS is protecting this investment in funding and procurement agreements.  Taxpayers are serving as the angel investors in COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic development, assuming the costs and risk.  It is imperative that they also receive the benefit and a stake in the outcome.

In July, Acting Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Gary Disbrow testified to the Senate Appropriations Committee, “When we are doing contracting for acquisition, we seek consideration to the U.S. government for our previous investment, and it’s more than just a dollar per dollar investment, it is also the cost of capital because the U.S. government took the risk to make that investment.”  To assure this commitment is being met, we respectfully request that you provide the following information:

  1. All federal support provided to Moderna in support of mRNA-1273 research, development, and manufacturing, including:
    1. Patents and patent applications with U.S. government coinventors, or on which there is disclosure of U.S. government interest.  Please include the numbers and expiration dates of such patents and the numbers and filing dates of such patent applications.
    2. Grants, cooperative research and development agreements, licensing agreements, funding agreements, and other transactions related to mRNA-1273.  Please include:
      1. The agency, program, institute, or other U.S. government entity providing the support, and an itemized breakdown of the amount, period, and scope of work supported
      2. Other federal nonfinancial support, including but not limited to, the use of federal personnel, facilities, and equipment
      3. Number of participants per clinical trial, and age, sex, race, and comorbidities of participants
      4. Locations of any manufacturing sites receiving federal support, including the amounts, period, and scope of work supported
  2. How federal investments are taken into consideration in making pricing determinations in procurement agreements, and what you are doing to ensure these investments are taken into account with regard to mRNA-1273.  Please also include the estimated cost to produce a dose of mRNA-1273, and itemized breakdowns of the amounts of funding Moderna has asserted to you that they have invested in the research, development, and manufacturing of mRNA-1273.  Please include any steps you have taken, or plan to take, to verify the amounts Moderna has asserted they invested.
  3. Manufacturing and distribution agreements with entities other than Moderna to produce and distribute supplies of mRNA-1273, including the entity names, amounts, period, and scope of work in these agreements.  Please include any compensation, including but not limited to royalty fees, Moderna is receiving from the U.S. government or other entities for the licensing and production of mRNA-1273.
  4. Measures you are taking to ensure timely access to mRNA-1273 in lower- and middle-income countries have timely access to mRNA-1273, including but not limited to, sharing U.S. government-owned technology with the World Health Organization COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and encouraging Moderna to do the same.

We appreciate your immediate attention to these important questions to provide full transparency on the immense taxpayer investments in mRNA-1273.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Doggett

Katie Porter

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