We wrote this summer that it was highly likely the pharmaceutical companies would be indemnified against any law suits arising from injury:
We see that that this has indeed happened and in an article from the Independent, we understand that Pfizer's boss refuses to explain why the business needs protection from legal action:
This is the Independent's article in full:
The UK government has granted pharmaceutical giant Pfizer a legal indemnity protecting it from being sued, enabling its coronavirus vaccine to be rolled out across the country as early as next week.
The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed the company has been given an indemnity protecting it from legal action as a result of any problems with the vaccine.
Ministers have also changed the law in recent weeks to give new protections to companies such as Pfizer, giving them immunity from being sued by patients in the event of any complications.
NHS staff providing the vaccine, as well as manufacturers of the drug, are also protected.
The vaccine will be made available to anyone over the age of 16 but will not be available to pregnant women because of the lack of data about how it could affect them and the baby. An ongoing trial is looking at this.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Tuesday under regulation 174 of the Human Medicine Regulations 2012 which allows an unlicensed medication to be used in an emergency such as a pandemic.
It also has the effect of granting civil immunity to Pfizer after the government changed the regulations following a short three-week consultation in September.
In a press conference with journalists on Wednesday, Ben Osborn, Pfizer's UK managing Director, refused to explain why the company needed an indemnity.
"We're not actually disclosing any of the details around any of the aspects of that agreement and specifically around the liability clauses".
Asked about when the full data on the vaccine’s clinical trial would be published, the company said this was still being worked on.
Dr Berkeley Phillips, medical director for Pfizer UK, said:
“The publication is in progress. The priority, absolutely, had to be the regulatory submissions to MHRA, EMA and the FDA. That was the most important thing we needed to do. The full protocol is published and available for everyone to see and the team are working on the publication of the manuscript in parallel to the regulatory submissions.”
The chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), speaking at a separate briefing on Wednesday, said “no corners had been cut” in the safety analysis of the vaccine.
June Raine said:
“This recommendation has only been given by the MHRA, following the most rigorous scientific assessment of every piece of data, so that it meets the required strict standards of safety of effectiveness and of quality...
...We've also reviewed and agreed the prescribing information so that the public and health care professionals are very clear and can be very confident that the vaccine is being used in the correct way, understanding what's involved.”
She said that National Institute for Biological Standards would be independently testing “every single vaccine that goes out” to ensure it meets safety standards.
A dark past
What many people may not be aware of is that Pfizer has previously paid out for the biggest fraud settlement in it's history:
Specifically $2.3 billion was paid out for fraudulent marketing. The following article from The Guardian provides more detail around this case that happened in 2009:
They were caught mis-promoting medicines and for paying kickbacks to compliant doctors. Pfizer pleaded guilty to misbranding the painkiller Bextra, withdrawn from the market in 2004, by promoting the drug for uses that were not approved by medical regulators.
Given this information we suggest that their latest product for Covid-19 may not be what they claim it to be and that without further longitudinal studies and more rigorous safety testing, everybody should take into consideration their track record in telling the truth...