Social Security advocate says pharmaceutical companies 'looking at a pandemic as a massive profit potential' 

Alex Lawson, executive director for Social Security Works, said on Hill TV’s Rising on Friday that pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to secure profits. 

Lawson said that taxpayer funds go into research into pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, such the ones that are being developed to combat the coronavirus, then the pharmaceutical companies that develop the drugs secure a patent and decide the price of those products. 

“This is an industry that really is an innovator in profiteering,” Lawson said. “We pay for the development of these drugs. It’s U.S. taxpayer dollars that go into the National Institute of Health to all of these university labs around the country that do this research; it’s our money that’s doing that. Then at the end of this process we just hand the patent over to a pharmaceutical company that charges whatever they want.”

Lawson discussed how drugmaker Gilead Sciences asked the Food and Drug administration last week to give it the rare "orphan" status for remdesivir, the company's experimental coronavirus treatment.

“In this drug that is showing some promise for [COVID-19], not only do they want to take the automatic five-year monopoly that they were granted, they put in paperwork that they want an additional two years by classifying a pandemic as a rare orphan disease," he said. "After the outcry we were able to make them reverse course on that because it looked so bad but that’s the kind of mentality that you see in the pharmaceutical industry: looking at a pandemic as a massive profit potential.”