COVID vaccine makers have a disturbing track record of criminal and civil liability

(Cont’) In a recent example of just such behavior, Johnson & Johnson is likely to pay a multi-billion dollar settlement after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal earlier this month to reverse a 2018 decision by a Missouri Circuit Court which awarded a $4.7 billion payout to 22 women who developed ovarian cancer which they claimed was caused by asbestos present in the company’s talc baby powder.

In June 2020, a Missouri Appeals Court reduced the verdict to $2.12 billion, but maintained the finding of “significant reprehensibility” in J&J’s actions, saying the pharmaceutical company failed to warn consumers of the danger.

Civil and criminal litigation for dangerous and illegal practices aren’t new for the vaccine companies.

According to the DOJ, Pfizer misbranded an anti-inflammatory drug which had been pulled from the market, promoting its sale “for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns.”

Pfizer’s subsidiaries pleaded guilty to a felony for misbranding the drug “with intent to defraud or mislead,” and the company was ordered to pay a criminal fine totaling $1.3 billion, “the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States for any matter.” Pfizer paid out another $1 billion “to resolve allegations” related to the illegal promotion of three other drugs.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Michael L. Levy said of the AstraZeneca settlement, “People have a legal right to know that pharmaceutical companies are marketing their drugs only for uses approved by the FDA and that their doctors’ judgment has not been affected by misinformation from a pharmaceutical company trying to boost revenues.”

Covering a wide range of criminal and civil violations, Big Pharma’s legal troubles also include patent infringement and failure to disclose information regarding government funding and clinical trials.

Last month a U.S. District Judge rejected Pfizer and BioNTech’s efforts to dismiss the action, giving the lawsuit the green light to go forward.

According to the report, “After the company announced it had seen positive results from its Phase I trial in May 2020,” scientists “raised questions about the company’s claims, suggesting that no significant data had been released to evidence them. Moderna disclosed early results from just 8 of its 45 trial participants.”

The report cited a concern expressed by Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University, who said, “It’s a bit of a concern that they haven’t published the results of any of their ongoing trials that they mention in their press release. They have not published any of that.”

Moderna’s secrecy has been called “highly problematic” by former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials, and “worthy of investigation for potential market manipulation.”

In an article published by Transparency International, Professor Jillian Kohler, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Governance, Transparency and Accountability in the Pharmaceutical Sector, wrote, “Now more than ever, pharmaceutical companies need to uphold standards of social responsibility.” Kohler added that “shareholders are not the only ones to whom pharmaceutical companies are accountable; the general public are also key investors.”