FDA Wants FOI Request on Vaccine to Wait—for 55 Years

Experts want to see information used in approving Pfizer's product
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2021 3:35 PM CST
FOI Request on Pfizer Data Might Wait Until 2076
Syringes containing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 sit in a tray at a state-run vaccination site Thursday in Cranston, R.I.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The experts who have filed a Freedom of Information request to see government data on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine might have to hand the issue down to the next generation—at least—of scientists and professors. The Food and Drug Administration has asked a judge to not force the documents' release until 2076, Reuters reports. The federal law requires agencies to answer such requests within 20 days but not necessarily turn over files that quickly. Government lawyers said the request covers about 329,000 pages.

More than 30 professors and scientists from Yale, Harvard, UCLA, and other universities sued in September to see the files, arguing that releasing the information the government used in deciding to approve the vaccine could convince skeptics that Pfizer's product is "safe and effective." The federal government said Monday in a report that before files can be turned over, they have to be reviewed so that "confidential business and trade secret information of Pfizer or BioNTech and personal privacy information of patients who participated in clinical trials" can be redacted.

About 400 other Freedom of Information requests are ahead of this one, the FDA said, and that the reviews are handled by a staff of 10. The agency countered with a proposal to release the files at a rate of 500 pages per month, per Reuters. Considering the importance of the issue, and the level of public interest, the plaintiffs said the FDA should have already been preparing to release vaccine data sooner than in 55 years. "Instead, it has done the opposite," their filing said. Mediaite rounds up more criticism of the long wait. (More Food and Drug Administration stories.)

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