L'etat, c'est Pfizer
After making tens of billions of dollars on its mRNA jab, the drug giant is happy to sue Poland and demand even MORE money; but its chairman feels different about lawsuits when he's the defendant.
Tick, tick, tick…
At 3 p.m. Thursday, in a downtown Manhattan courtroom, federal Judge Jessica G.L. Clarke will hold the first hearing in Berenson v Biden, my lawsuit against the White House and Pfizer’s top officials for their efforts to censor me in 2021.
The hearing will be largely procedural. Judge Clarke will set a calendar for future filings and discovery, the process by which we and the defendants trade information and interview each other under oath. (This assumes the suit survives defense motions to dismiss it. Judge Clarke will decide on those later.)
The defendants want a short discovery schedule, because a quick clock is easier to run out with objections before they answer our questions. They’ve tried other big-firm defense tactics too. I don’t like what they’re doing, but I don’t take it personally.
(Just when I thought I was out...)
However, the defendants - at least the two Pfizer defendants, senior board member and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and chairman Dr. Albert Bourla, DVM - are taking this case very personally indeed.
The good doctors are shocked a mere journalist would have the audacity to question their motives and accuse them of wrongdoing. Shocked, I tell ya.
(Albert Bourla, The World’s Favorite Veterinarian (TM), would rather you don’t support Unreported Truths. What better reason do you need?)
Bourla and Gottlieb are jointly represented by Davis Polk, a big New York firm that works regularly for Pfizer. (Interestingly, Drs. Gottlieb and Bourla did not hire separate attorneys, and they have never argued Bourla didn’t know of Gottlieb’s efforts to make Twitter ban me.)
Bourla and Gottlieb very much hope to make the case about me. They opened their most recent filing by referring to “the conspiracy theories that have propelled [Berenson] to prominence online.”
Yep, those gosh-dang conspiracy theories.
You know, like this tweet from July 29, 2021, which led to my fourth strike from Twitter - and did nothing but correctly report the six-month results of Pfizer’s own pivotal clinical trial for its mRNA Covid jab.
(My, what a big conspiracy theory you have:)
Bourla and Gottlieb have also repeatedly attacked me because while I worked at The New York Times, I drew on documents the drugmaker Eli Lilly had turned over to plaintiffs in lawsuits over its anti-psychotic medicine Zyprexa to report on Zyprexa’s hidden risks.
Put aside that I wrote those articles in 2006, 17 years ago. Put aside that those articles led to a criminal investigation and a billion-dollar fine against Lilly for its illegal promotion of Zyprexa.
There is still no comparison between this lawsuit and that case, because I wasn’t a plaintiff or defendant when I wrote about Zyprexa. I was a reporter, an independent reporter under no obligation to either side. I had not agreed to keep any documents secret.
This time, I’m the plaintiff. I have the same rights and obligations as any plaintiff. Those include the right to make the defendants give me documents that might be relevant to my case - and the obligation to abide by whatever protective orders Judge Clarke imposes on those documents.
But Bourla and Gottlieb went even further in a letter to the court earlier this month, claiming I had filed “this lawsuit for the express purpose of obtaining discovery material, including from third parties, to publish and monetize it.”
“Monetize” is a particularly ripe accusation, considering Bourla has made over $100 million running Pfizer since 2020. Pfizer itself has sold almost $100 billion in Covid jabs and Paxlovid over the same period.
Veterinarian, heal thyself! (Or thy cat, I don’t know.)
In any case, the view is exactly backwards.
I sued Bourla and Gottlieb because I have a valid claim against them. What I do with the information they are legally required to provide me in discovery is irrelevant to the strength of my case. Like all plaintiffs, I simply have to comply with whatever protective orders Judge Clarke makes (and I will).
The real question is why Bourla and Gottlieb are so terrified of discovery - and what it might show about Pfizer’s discussions with the government and social media companies during the summer of 2021.
Or maybe Bourla and Gottlieb simply believe discovery is beneath them.
After all, barely two years ago, Albert Bourla was arguably the most powerful private citizen in the world. In spring 2021, after the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca DNA Covid vaccines ran into safety questions, the mRNA shots looked like the only game in town - and Pfizer far had more doses ready to ship quickly than Moderna. Presidents and prime ministers practically begged for the shots, and Bourla ultimately controlled their supply.
“Albert Bourla has become the world’s most in-demand chief executive,” the Financial Times wrote in November 2021, in an article whose headline questioned whether Pfizer had “too much power.” “The Pfizer boss flew into Cornwall for the G7 summit in June, parking his private jet next to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plane.”
How the mighty have fallen. Covid remains with us, but the world no longer wants the mRNAs. Pfizer’s stock trades below its levels five years ago. Last week Bourla was reduced to suing the government of Poland to force Warsaw to pay about $1.5 billion for 60 million Covid jabs the Poles no longer want.
No wonder he’s in a mood - and taking his feelings out on me.
I trust Judge Clarke will see through the smoke, though.