Big Pharma Launches Campaign Against Biden Over Covid Vaccine Patent Waiver
US President Joe Biden speaks about the 50 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine administered in the United States at an event commemorating the milestone at Eisenhower’s Executive Office building in Washington, DC on February 25, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
The lobby group that represents several large pharmaceutical companies last month quietly launched a campaign against President Joe Biden and his decision to support waiving intellectual property protections for Vaccines against covid19.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, is a political advocacy group that represents more than 30 pharmaceutical companies, including vaccine makers Covid Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. At the end of last month, he began launching a digital ad campaign on Facebook and Google targeting Biden’s decision, a CNBC search of the companies’ ad records found.
While PhRMA blasted the Biden administrationThe move shortly after the announcement, the group has not officially announced a campaign against the waiver push. Details of the effort had not yet been released.
Supporters of the patent protection waiver say it allows poorer countries to speed up production of the Covid vaccine.
A PhRMA spokesperson did not return CNBC’s request for comment.
PhRMA ads on Google refer to Biden by name.
“Biden’s Harmful Vaccine Position,” reads one of the Google ads reviewed by CNBC. “Biden’s damaging IP position,” reads another Google spot.
Google’s ad records show that one of the ads on the search platform costs the group between $ 1,000 and $ 50,000. The other costs less than $ 100. According to Google data, the two have targeted the area in and around Washington, DC.
Each Google ad ran for up to five days until the end of May, according to the search engine’s ad transparency report.
Google ads link to articles written by the PhRMA public affairs team and posted on the group’s website. One of the posts features the big title: “The Biden administration allows politics to reverse a pragmatic response to a pandemic.” The article claims that “not only will this policy do nothing to help save lives around the world, it could have a detrimental impact on American patients.”
Another PhRMA article quotes a survey conducted by a Hill-HarrisX poll which shows that 57% of registered voters who responded to the poll are against waiver.
Facebook’s ad library shows that PhRMA has spent over $ 245,000 since late April and throughout May on digital spots. A fraction of that expense was spent on ads that ran at the end of May aimed at Biden’s decision.
The Facebook ads all had the same message: “Eliminating IP protections is undermining our global response to the pandemic and compromising security.” A spot could reach up to 1 million people, according to data from the social media giant. This ad targeted people in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. PhRMA’s Facebook ads are currently inactive.
Even before the launch of the digital ad campaign, PhRMA was actively lobbying the White House Biden on the patent waiver issue.
The first quarter lobbying disclosure reports, which run from the month of Biden’s inauguration through March, show that PhRMA lobbied the president’s executive office as well as health and human services on “issues of international intellectual property and market access policy, “among other concerns.
PhRMA spent just over $ 8.5 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2021. Data from the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics shows the organization spent more than $ 25 million in 2020 and nearly $ 30 million in 2019 in lobbying expenses.