Texas AG Ken Paxton sues Pfizer for ‘misrepresenting’ COVID vaccine efficacy

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday he has sued pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for “unlawfully misrepresenting” the effectiveness of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, following up on an investigation he began in May to probe their representation of the vaccine to the public.

In the Attorney General’s petition to a Lubbock County court, the office asserts “the COVID-19 vaccines are the miracle that wasn’t.” The state claims Pfizer violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act by asserting the vaccine is “95 percent effective.” Paxton claims that is misleading, citing publications from the Food and Drug Administration meant to cast doubt on the standards used to formulate that statistic.

“That number was only ever legitimate in a solitary, highly technical, and artificial way—it represented a calculation of the so-called ‘relative risk reduction’ for vaccinated individuals in Pfizer’s then-unfinished pivotal clinical trial. But FDA publications indicate “relative risk reduction” is a misleading statistic,” the petition states.

According to resources provided by the National Institutes of Health, relative risk reduction “tells you by how much the treatment reduced the risk of bad outcomes relative to the control group who did not have the treatment” — put simply, how likely vaccinated people were to contract COVID-19 compared to the unvaccinated.

In November 2020, Pfizer announced their first check of the vaccine’s efficacy showed it to be “95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose.” That conclusion was made based on their evaluation of 170 confirmed COVID cases, with 162 among the unvaccinated and only 8 among the vaccinated group.

Attorney General Paxton’s office asserted, however, that Pfizer “fostered a misleading impression that vaccine protection was durable.”

“We are pursuing justice for the people of Texas, many of whom were coerced by tyrannical vaccine mandates to take a defective product sold by lies,” Attorney General Paxton said in a press release Thursday. “The facts are clear. Pfizer did not tell the truth about their COVID-19 vaccines.”

In a statement provided to Nexstar, Pfizer said they believe the case “has no merit.”

“Pfizer is deeply committed to the well-being of the patients it serves and has no higher priority than the safety and effectiveness of its treatments and vaccines,” they said. “Since its initial authorization by FDA in December 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to more than 1.5 billion people, demonstrated a favorable safety profile in all age groups, and helped protect against severe COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization and death. The representations made by the company about its COVID-19 vaccine have been accurate and science-based.”

The State of Texas is asking the court to permanently block Pfizer from making these claims about their vaccine. The state is also seeking civil penalties of up to ten thousand dollars per violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

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