Pfizer is projected to rake in more than $50 billion from its COVID medicines this year. It’s a symbol of the drastic inequality created by a for-profit approach to global health.
by Nick Dearden
Last week, drug giant Pfizer told investors that it expects to make more than $50 billion off its COVID-19 medicines this year. Its vaccine is the most lucrative medicine in history, accruing $37 billion in 2021, and has sent its corporate revenues into the stratosphere. By the end of this year, the company hopes to bring in $100 billion — a sum that exceeds the GDP of most countries on Earth.
It’s been a good pandemic for a company that was, until recently, the least-trusted company in the least-trusted sector in the United States. Not only has the company made a fortune on its COVID medicines, it’s also become a household name, with a chief executive who moves among the world’s most powerful leaders, toasted by ordinary people across the world who are desperate for this pandemic to be over. It’s been quite the PR coup.
Dig deeper, though, and you quickly find out that Pfizer’s profits are not a justifiable reward for a much-needed solution to an era-defining crisis. Rather, Pfizer’s income is built on aggressive corporate practices and ruthless profiteering that has led to an obscene inequality in access to COVID-19 vaccines, in turn prolonging, rather than ending, this pandemic. Worse, Pfizer isn’t a one-off — it’s just one example among many of an industry that has become a symbol of our highly financialized, monopolistic global economy.