In January, the Brazilian government complained that Pfizer was insisting on contractual terms in negotiations that were “unfair and abusive.” The government pointed to five terms that it found problematic, ranging from a sovereign immunity waiver on public assets to a lack of penalties for Pfizer if deliveries were late. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism soon published a scathing story on Pfizer’s vaccine negotiations.
Less than two months later, the Brazilian government accepted a contract with Pfizer that contains most of the same terms that the government once deemed unfair. Brazil waived sovereign immunity; imposed no penalties on Pfizer for late deliveries; agreed to resolve disputes under a secret private arbitration under the laws of New York; and broadly indemnified Pfizer for civil claims.
The contract also contains an additional term not included in other Latin American agreements reviewed by Public Citizen: The Brazilian government is prohibited from making “any public announcement concerning the existence, subject matter or terms of [the] Agreement” or commenting on its relationship with Pfizer without the prior written consent of the company. Pfizer gained the power to silence Brazil.
Brazil is not alone. A similar nondisclosure provision is contained in the Pfizer contract with the European Commission and the U.S. government. In those cases, however, the obligation applies to both parties.
For example, neither Pfizer nor the U.S. government can make “any public announcement concerning the existence, subject matter or terms of this Agreement, the transactions contemplated by it, or the relationship between the Pfizer and the Government hereunder, without the prior written consent of the other.” The contract contains some exceptions for disclosures required by law. It is not clear from the public record whether Pfizer has elected to prohibit the U.S. from making any statements thus far. The E.C. cannot include in any announcement or disclosure the price per dose, the Q4 2020 volumes, or information that would be material to Pfizer without the consent of Pfizer.
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