On November 9, 2020 Pfizer announced that it had produced a vaccine that is 90% effective against the coronavirus. Just yesterday, it was discovered that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla sold $5.6 million in stock the day after their announcement. That is equal to 60% of his stock ownership in the company. Because of the good news his company shared, his stock predictably became worth much more than it was before. Although it is understandable that Bourla would want to make a profit following Pfizer’s good news, many believe this reflects poorly on Bourla.
According to NPR investigative reporter Tom Dreisbach, Bourla’s deal was made months in advance to avoid allegations of insider trading. When stock is traded within a public company based on non-public information, this becomes illegal because it gives the trader an unfair advantage. Bourla’s sale was made under a 10b5-1 plan, which places stock trades on autopilot to sell when they hit a certain date or number. Executives are only supposed to set up these plans when they are not in possession of inside information that can affect their company’s stock price.
Albert Bourla set up his plan on August 19, 2020 and on the very next day Pfizer issued a press release indicating they were on a positive track to finding a vaccine for the coronavirus. Fast forward to November and now the question becomes whether or not Bourla was aware of significant inside information that could increase his stock price when he implemented his 10b5-1 plan. A spokesperson informed Dreisbach of NPR that much of the information was already made public before the deal was put in place and they did not consider the trial data, which they based their press release off of, to be “significant material information”. While Bourla’s stock deal was made through legal consultation, it is still alarming to think that CEOs are profiting off public need for a vaccine. Yes, this is the way the world works, but is making so much money when 1.29 million people have died worth it?
What do you think of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s suspicious stock deal? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.