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In Preparation for Next Pandemic, Public Citizen Calls for Increased Affordability, Global Technology Sharing

At Senate hearing, Public Citizen’s president to push for new funding models for biomedical advances

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When the U.S. government invests in vaccines and drugs to prevent and address future pandemics and emergencies, it must do more to prevent price gouging and require technology sharing, according to new testimony released today from Public Citizen’s president, Robert Weissman.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Weissman called on lawmakers to avoid mistakes made by the U.S. government during the Covid-19 pandemic, and implement reforms aimed at addressing transparency, pricing, and global access. Further, he urged lawmakers to build out new economic incentives to spur biomedical innovation. 

The hearing is part of an effort led by Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-N.H.) to move forward with the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA).

“While Moderna’ executives became billionaires, taxpayers were gouged,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen in his testimony. “Unless Congress takes action to require companies to share publicly-funded, lifesaving technology, patients around the world are poised to be ripped off and denied access to important vaccines in the future.”

Weissman’s testimony details specific recommendations for future R&D grant and acquisition contracts to ensure transparency, affordability, and global access. It also calls for building out robust alternative funding models, such as prize funds, for future biomedical innovation.

“The Covid pandemic should teach us the crucial importance of a real public health infrastructure to prepare for pandemics and emergencies and to make significant investments in biomedical innovation,” said Weissman. “But the pandemic also illustrates the very real costs – in dollars and lives – of failing to act proactively to ensure an adequate supply and affordability of key biomedical products.”

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